Jun 2

I think We've Met

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags:

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Photo: Josh Morse - Fans25

The 2010 NBA Finals - LA Lakers vs. Boston Celtics. We have all said it once before in our lives to someone we were being introduced to: "I believe we've met before." And though it is indeed a popular saying, there will be no need for the use of that phrase when the Lakers and Celtics tip it off from LA tomorrow night. These two teams are the most recognizable in the game of basketball, and here in 2010, they collide once more to see who is the best in the world on the hardwood.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I have seen the baby hook by Magic Johnson or the last second heroics of Larry Bird. TV stations have been overplaying these highlights for years, so now it is time for Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce to make new highlights. There will be no shortage of super-stardom surrounding these NBA Finals, as both teams are loaded with big names, and the sidelines at the Staples Center will resemble the red carpet at the Oscar's. This series will be fun and entertaining to watch, if nothing else.
We all know the big rivalries of the sporting world. There is the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry, and the Duke-UNC rivalry, just to name a few. And rivalries are what make things spicier. Even on Saved by the Bell, a rivalry was mixed in between Bayside and Valley (for all of you 90's teenagers out there)! Every team has their rival, and when you are playing your rival for all the marbles, things really get heated up!
The history between the two teams. Man, how do I cram so much history into a couple of paragraphs? These two franchises have met in the NBA Finals eleven times since 1959, with the Celtics winning the world championship in nine of those meetings. The Lakers broke through for the title in 1985 and 1987 with Magic and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, but Boston has cut down the nets every other time they have met. The pinnacle of this rivalry was in the mid-80's when the teams met in the Finals three out of four seasons.
Overall, Boston has the advantage, no doubt. The Celtics are 40-27 against the Lakers in the postseason, and won the last meeting in 2008 four games to two for the title.
The famous "Beat LA" chant that virtually every LA sports team suffers through still to this day, was also born via this rivalry back in 1982, when Boston fans actually chanted this in support of the 76ers, who would go on to play (and lose to) LA in the final round...
So who will win this latest version? I have a friendly wager going with a fellow participant of Fans 25, "The Commish." He has decided to take LA, and I am going to go with Boston. He has his reasons, and I have mine. He thinks Kobe and the 2009 champs will reign supreme, I think Pierce and company will get it done just like in 2008. In the regular season, the two teams split one and one, but it doesn't really matter because these guys don't take the regular season as seriously as the playoffs. Sorry, they just don't.
Here is a non-hoops expert's breakdown of the series ahead...
Lakers Roster -
Guard: Kobe Bryant
Guard: Derek Fisher
Forward: Ron Artest
Forward: Lamar Odom
Center: Pau Gasol
Bench relief: Andrew Bynum, Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar 
Celtics Roster -
Guard: Rajon Rondo
Guard: Ray Allen
Forward: Paul Pierce
Forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Glen Davis
Bench relief: Rasheed Wallace, Nate Robinson, Kendrick Perkins
Coaching comparison: Phil Jackson is the all-time greatest coach. Period. But with that said, Jackson and his ten rings have to look across the scorers table to Doc Rivers and know he is 1-0 in NBA Finals meetings against the Lakers. These coaches are very different, but both are remarkebly successful. Jackson likes to be the guy who figures out team chemistry and the zen and vibe of the team. Rivers is a master of getting his team ready to play with a good, flexible gameplan. No advantage here, in my opinion, except that Jackson will really want revenge against the Celtics to be able to go down as the all-time best Laker leader. Rivers, with another title, will start to be mentioned along side of KC Jones (eight titles as player, two as coach).
Why the Lakers could win. The biggest superstar in this series is Kobe Bryant. I dont think anyone would argue that. Kobe has proven that currently he is the most explosive and dynamic player in the game. But is Kobe's supporting cast good enough to keep up with all of Boston's fire power? The Celtics don't have the one superstar name, but rather a team comprised of five very, very good starters, each playing a key role. What the Lakers do have as an answer for the Celtics is big time inside play between Bynum and Gasol. Each presents trouble in their own way.
Also, love him or hate him, but Ron Artest adds the physical inside bulldozer type of work that you need at forward. He has been a force in the playoffs and could be a perfect compliment to the Kobe-Gasol/Bynum show. He could get a few guys into foul trouble for Boston.
Phil Jackson doesn't have ten world titles for nothing. If Boston has any weaknesses, Jackson will find it and put the right five folks in there to do damage to it. He is using Kobe similarly to how he used Michael Jordan, and we all know how that turned out. Truly, if LA is to win this series, they will need the best player in the world to play like the best player in the world.
The Lakers also have the revenge factor on their side as well as home-court advantage.
Why the Celtics WILL win: I like the way this team plays as a team and can shoot the freakin' lights out. Ray Allen is deadly from outside, and if Rondo is driving the lane and making smart decisions, this team is incredibly hard to beat. I think Pierce is a future HOFer, and when he is on, there is no better basketball savvy type player than he is. He is constantly doing the small things that gain an advantage for his team.
I think Rondo's emergence as a premier point guard is what gives Boston my vote. Yes, Kobe is the best guard on the planet, but Rondo isn't far behind. When Rondo opens up space for Allen and Pierce to shoot it, teams get in trouble quick.
Inside, the Cetics will have their hands full with Bynum and Gasol, but I think they can hang. They will counter with Wallace and Big Baby Davis.
I think Boston will win because of their deadly shooting and Rondo's guard play. This will be a series for the ages, but in the end I see another banner going up in Beantown.


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