Just as David Stern and all the bigwigs in the
NBA had hoped, the Lakers and Celtics have advanced to the NBA Finals in a match-
up that conjures up memories of Bird and Magic and all those other greats that
played during the big rivalry days. But right now, none of that matters as it all
comes down to who is better ''now'', and who will step up and want it
Boston is a slightly older team overall, and the fact that they've
had to work harder this post-season (20 games played as opposed to only 15 for
L.A.) might hurt them quite a bit. It has been a long layoff since their last
game, but even then it's been a grueling couple of weeks for Boston. Also, the
fact that L.A. dismantled the reigning champions and come from the far superior
West primed to beat anyone gives them a mental (and actual) edge.
was the best defensive team during the regular season, and they have continued
solid defensive play through the playoffs with some exceptions. Paul Pierce has
shown his potential to dominate a game offensively, and the role players have by
and large stepped up for the Celtics, but KG has yet to be dominant in any series.
He'll need to be if Boston hopes to defeat the best of the
Meanwhile, there is no single player in the league who I trust more
to take over when necessary than Lakers' star Kobe Bryant. This guy can shoot it
better than any other player in this series by far, and even when his shot isn't
working (which is quite rare), he finds other ways to impact the game. He can get
to hole, and he knows how to set up his teammates, who can shoot the ball well
from three-point land. Also, Pau Gasol is a huge X factor for the Lakers, and
along with Lamar Odom I think LA gives KG and Kendrick Perkins something they
haven't had to face yet in these playoffs: a talented frontcourt that can
completely change a game and series.
With the NBA's current best player, a
far superior coach (sorry, Doc Rivers), an amazing supporting cast that is deep
and motivated to live up to Kobe's intensity level, and more proven winners
(sorry KG, Pierce, and Ray Allen), I think the Lakers win this thing, maybe even
in five games.
But I'll say Lakers win in 6, with Kobe as Finals MVP and
all the questions that have surrounded him since Shaq's departure thrown out the
window and his place amongst the greatest ever firmly established. Meanwhile, for
the Big Three in Boston, yet another disappointing season that doesn't end with a
ring. They may have enough left in the tank to make a serious run next year, but
the Lakers are too much of a powerhouse this time.