Lakers in 7
The 2010 NBA Playoffs; where’s the Drama has been on a milk carton. To say the NBA Playoffs have been as dull as dishwater so far this year would be an understatement, as the first round meeting between the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks has thus far been the only series to go to a seventh game. Of the 14 other series, six have ended in five games or less. It’s not just the series that have lacked excitement as night after night blow outs have been the rule rather than the exception, as overtime thrillers have been few and far between. Despite all that, if the NBA Finals can be a classic, the incredible boredom of the first three rounds will be all but forgotten. With the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics meeting with the Larry O’Brien Trophy on the line for the 12th time the NBA may in fact have the stars lined up perfectly for that much need classic, which will redeem the entire postseason.
When they met in the Finals two years ago the Celtics were a team on a mission, a team that was put together and instantly became title contenders, after 20 years of wandering the NBA desert. Physically the Celtics were able to push around the Lakers and win their record 17th NBA Title in six games. Last year, while injuries derailed the Celtics in the second round, the Lakers were not going to be pushed around by anybody as they dominated the West, and blitzed through the Magic in five games on the way to their 15th title in franchise history.
Historically when they meet in the NBA Finals, the Celtics have been superior; winning nine of the previous 11 match ups. However, most of that dominance comes in the 60’s when the Celtics were in the midst of winning 11 championships over a 13 year stretch, a feat that will likely never be equaled. In the 80’s when the Lakers and Celtics stood on even ground it was Magic and show time, taking two of three series against the Celtics and Larry Bird, before the Celtics won again in 2008 in the year the rivalry was re-awaken.
If their two meetings in the regular season are any indication, the NBA Finals could contain enough excitement to fill two postseasons, as they split with the road team each walking off with one point victories. Unlike 2008 when the Celtics manhandled them, the Lakers are a much stronger team in the middle, capable of standing toe to toe with anyone physically, as Pau Gasol who was just getting used to Los Angeles in 2008 as developed into the perfect complement for Kobe Bryant provide a force on the boards. The Celtics have in the meantime added some finesse, as Guard Rajon Rondo who was just a role player in 2008, has developed into a true superstar, and has been a big part of the Celtics resurgence in the postseason.
In the NBA Finals the best player on the court usually ends up holding the Trophy at the end of the series amidst raining confetti, as he is also named Finals MVP. There is no doubt the Lakers Kobe Bryant will be the best player on the court, as he is the only player capable of winning a game by himself on both sides. However, the Celtics view their big three of Kevin Garnett, who after a hobbling through the season looks like his old self, Paul Pierce who is quietly putting together a Hall of Fame Career, and Ray Allen who looks rejuvenated after being written off as over the hill as being up to the task, and when you add the play of Rondo the big three turns into the big four. The Celtics will also have an edge on the bench, as the Lakers subs have been underwhelming the entire postseason, while the Celtics have gotten some contributions from just about everybody. The Lakers will have an important edge in four of the seven games will be at the Staples Center, where they have not lost in the playoffs this year. Perhaps in a series this tight that will be the ultimate factor, as the Celtics may be the hot team, while the Lakers are the slightly better team. If everyone brings their A game, it’s anyone’s guess who will win, and perhaps the reason the why the NBA Playoffs have been so awful this year is that it was saving all the drama for the Finals. The Lakers will win it because they have Game 7 at home, but each and every game will be tight and will go down to the thrilling final minutes.