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LCB Hoops Picks: NBA Finals Lakers v. Celtics

June 2, 2010

The NBA Finals are finally here and to ready you for this historic match-up, Russ and Langston got together to discuss the series. Their picks and more after the jump.
Langston: If they were to make lunch boxes, trapper keepers, folders, posters, or backpacks of NBA rivalries, this would be the one everyone would want; it's basically the Lamborghini or Jurassic Park of NBA match-ups. And though this is the one Finals series that should get every NBA fan excited, there is one thing about these teams playing each other that needs to change. The same tired storyline that is being used all across this great land of ours. You know the one; the blue collar defense of Boston versus the flashy play of Los Angeles. This couldn't have been truer in the 80's, when grittiness was the second best attribute for the Celtics and the Lakers appeared to be pieced together by a Hollywood producer. Now, not so much. This series has changed. I'm not sure who will win this series, but I do know that it won't be anything like any of the previous battles between the two squads.

Russ: For the 12th time the two best franchises in NBA history meet to decide who will be World Champions as the Lakers and Celtics square off with Game 1 starting Thursday night. To show how dominant these two franchises have been, they have accounted for 32 championships in the 63 year history of the NBA. Two teams have accounted for over half the championships in 63 years! If I wasn't going to get JJ Redick or Grant Hill in the NBA finals, this is a glorious consolation prize.

(1) Los Angeles Lakers v. (4) Boston Celtics
Langston: In the lead-in, I made reference to this not being the 2008 Finals all over again and I want to clarify some of the biggest changes for the two teams since they last met in the playoffs.

  • In 2008, Vladimir Radmanovic started and was given the task of guarding Paul Pierce. Paul Pierce was the best player of the series. In 2010, Ron Artest will guard "The Truth." 
  • In 2008, Rondo was a young starter thrown into the fire with a group of veteran superstars. In 2010, Rondo is arguably their most dynamic player.
  • In 2008, Andrew Bynum was injured and sat out the series. In 2010, Andrew Bynum is injured and is playing. 
  • In 2008, Kevin Garnett was one of the best players in the league. In 2010, he seems like an angry caricature of his former self yet he still plays fantastic (hacky) defense.
  • In 2008, the Lakers best bench player was Ronny Turiaf. In 2010, it's Lamar Odom.
  • In 2008, Kobe would do his damage driving the lane. In 2010, Kobe is his most deadly when shooting.
  • In 2008, the Lakers big men were shown to be soft and unwilling to go up with force. In 2010, they're defending champs with the knowledge of what it takes to win.
  • In 2008, the Lakers only had a couple months with Pau in the triangle. In 2010, he has two plus seasons under his belt and has now mastered the system. Which allows for easier shots and the ability to set up his teammates with crisp, timely passes.

Those are only a couple of the things that have changed since 2008, I didn't even mention how both teams have improved in almost every facet of the game, but I think I showed how different this series will be. That doesn't mean the Lakers will roll or the Celtics won't destroy like they did in 2008, it just means that it will have to be done in a different way. Both of these teams are clearly here for a reason, they are extremely talented, focused, and experienced squads with the ability to beat any team on any given night. Either team could take this series in four games or seven. But I like the Lakers, for a multitude of reasons. They have yet to lose at home during these playoffs, no one has been able to slow down Kobe since the calendar turned to May, and the team seems to get better with each game. While the Celtics are too playing better with every game, they seem to lose another guy to injury game-by-game. I see Kobe getting the better of Ray Allen, Ron slowing down Paul, Fisher finding a way to do it again (The Lakers have already played against Westbrook, D-Will, and Nash), and Pau gets revenge. Oh and then there is the small fact that when the triangle is run right it doesn't matter how tall/long or good a team is defensively, the triangle wins every time. Right now, the Lakers are running it as smooth as ever. Lakers in seven.

Russ: Ultimately Kobe will be the key to this series. Will he be able to carry over his great series against a weak Phoenix defense over to the great team defense of the Celtics? But some smaller things that will be key:
  • Will Gasol/Odom be tougher and more effective inside against Garnett/Perkins/Rasheed then they were in the 08 Finals? They will need to be with Andrew Bynum not being 100 percent since high school.
  • Will Ron Artest be able to neutralize Paul Pierce?
  • Who guards Rajon Rondo? Old man Fisher or do they put Kobe on him?
  • Do the Celtics have the legs for a 7 game series?

This is a very hard series to predict. I think Kobe has to win this series himself as I don't think he will get much from Gasol/Bynum/Odom inside. The Lakers just haven't played a superior defense like they will with Boston. That combined with Rajon Rondo running wild, as I predict, I am going with the Celtics in 7.


Teach said...

I don't really get the "will the Celtics have the legs" comments, and the only reason I'm saying this is because it's the Lakers that have had two of their guys get their knees drained. If you made it to the Finals, I feel like you've got the legs.

btw, good post

June 2, 2010 at 8:10 PM
Russ said...

Turns out the Celtics didn't have the legs for game 1.

June 4, 2010 at 7:32 PM
Teach said...

I don't think that was about legs...that might have just been about length and talent

June 5, 2010 at 12:02 AM
Deckfight said...

only question--how much longer can the lakers do this w/ derek fisher at the point? you'd think he'd be a liability by now. robert horry must've given him the PEDs he was taking....

June 5, 2010 at 11:39 PM
Teach said...

yeah, we definitely jumped the gun on dfish is old stories a few years ago. now enough time's gone by that we can reuse the same material probably

June 7, 2010 at 8:49 PM
Russ said...

Game 2 was a weird game. Say these stats were presented to you before the game started:

Gasol/Bynum combined: 46 points, 13/20 shooting, 14 rebounds, 13 blocks

Garnett/Pierce combined: 16 points, 4/16 shooting, 8 rebounds, 1 block

Who would you have thought won? Even if Kobe has an average game (which he does just because of foul trouble) there is no way you can logically argue that Boston could win. Ray Allen would have to hit every 3 he shoots, Rajon Rondo would need to totally control the game, and the rest of the Lakers would need to be MIA. And that's what happened.

June 7, 2010 at 9:39 PM

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