“In the Hollywood corner, wearing the purple, white and gold, 15 championships, one Kardashian sister and lead by the greatest player in the world, the defending NBA champions of the world, the Los Angeles Lakers!”
“And fighting out of the underdog corner, in the white and aging green, with 17 NBA championships, the challengers, the Boston Celtics!”
After a playoffs that saw so many wrongs, finally the finale is here to right those wrongs, and by wrongs I mean the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks and Vince Carter…
The finals will mark the twelfth time in history the Lakers and Celtics have battled for the NBA crown. Unquestionably, this is the greatest rivalry in professional sports and no matter what side you’re on, you’re happy this is going down. The Celtics won the last and they had home court advantage, now the tables have turned and the Lakers are hoping their fortunes have as well.
At the point guard matchup Boston should have the edge with Rajon Rondo against Derek Fisher. The Lakers have showed some weakness in this position as was exploited by Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook in previous series. Derek Fisher is going to have problems keeping up with the lightning quick Rondo and this could be the biggest area of concern for the Lakers. If Rondo gets into the lane and scores easy layups or creates open looks for his teammates the Lakers are in trouble, we saw what Rondo did to the Cavs. It may be a matchup the Lakers will want to avoid altogether and have Kobe guard Rondo and put Fisher on Ray Allen. Whatever Jackson decides, the play of Rondo to me, will be a deciding factor in this series. As for Ray Allen and Fisher, they’re both great shooting veterans, and both will hit big shots for their teams especially at home.
On The Blocks
Normally I would have given the Lakers the advantage inside, with their length and the scoring and passing touch of Pau Gasol. But as soft as Pau played against the Suns, you have to wonder if Kendrick Perkins won’t be able to rough him up out of his game all series. You can count on a couple goon meathook fouls from Rasheed Wallace and you have to wonder if Pau has the stomach for a steady diet of forearm to the back and physical play on the blocks. He didn’t in 2008. As for Andrew Bynum, the biggest concern the Lakers should have about him is his health. Bynum has a bum knee and he looked rickety against the Suns. If he’s healthy, he’ll be a force the Lakers not with his shot blocking, but with his rebounding. Let’s not forget, heading into the playoffs, the Celtics weren’t a very a good rebounding team, Bynum’s length can create valuable second chance opportunities, which we have seen, a la Ron Artest, can win games.
The Power forward matchup is deadlocked. Apart from a flagrant elbow or karate chop you never quite know what you’re going to get from Kevin Garnett or Lamar Odom offensively these days, you have to think these two will cancel each other out with edge going to either one on their home courts. But with the lack of spring I’m seeing in Garnett’s knees, he could have trouble keeping Odom off the glass.
Black Mamba And The Truth
As for Kobe, no one can guard him, but the Celtics have a history of at least making it tough on him. Paul Pierce did a pretty good job on Lebron James, but Kobe is a true winner and an assassin with no holes in his game. You can’t give Kobe the mid range, in fact, you can’t give Kobe anything, he’s in range once he steps off the bus! But if the Celtics can limit him to jumpshots and keep him off the free throw line, they may be able contain him. I say may, because Kobe as of late has been on some next level Jordan shit, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he goes legendary this series.
Paul Pierce, the truth, the craftiest player in the NBA, the man with the quickest first step in slow motion…I just don’t think he’ll be able to score with his usual frequency against Ron Artest. Artest is such a great defender and his strength will bother Pierce and make it difficult for Pierce to get his post touches at his favorite spots. If Pierce isn’t scoring, it’s hard to see where the point production is going to come from for the Celtics. On the flipside, Artest has been shooting the ball well, albeit, the Phoenix defenders weren’t even in earshot of him, but he’ll definitely have swagger and more importantly, shooting confidence heading into this series. If Artest can shut down Paul Pierce and produce offensively for the Lakers, he’ll be taking some diamond studded hardware back to Queensbridge in the offseason…That is if he hasn’t sold out for the burbs of Hollywood. Keep it real Ron.
Both benches are sloppy and inconsistent but Nate Robinson for the Celtics is instant offense. Rasheed has also been playing well, but between Odom, Farmar and Brown, the Lakers should get just enough to even this matchup out.
The Lakers may be favored to win the series by oddsmakers but it certainly won’t be easy, forget the battles, this is going to be a war. The Celtics are going to give everything they have, unlike the Lakers who look like they’ll be competing for rings for the next 3 years, the Celtics have a lot of guys who are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of their careers. Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace are looking their ages, but nothing brings out the best in an old hound than the scent of a championship. The Celtics hounds noses are twitching and so am I with excitement, let’s get this show on the road! Game 1 goes Thursday June 3rd.