NBA Finals

Steve O Speak

By Fanspeak Contributing Writer Geoff Nelowet:

The LA Lakers punched their ticket to the NBA finals last night after taking out the Phoenix Suns in six games. They will face the red-hot Boston Celtics in what will be a rematch of the 2008 finals – a series in which the Boston Celtics won with a 39-point demolition of the Lakers in game six to win the title.

The biggest question heading into the finals this year may be: will 2010 be any different from 2008? For the most part, both rosters are basically the same. The Lakers added Ron Artest, and the Celtics have Rasheed Wallace coming off the bench. Aside from Artest’s game winner in game five, neither have been the contributors they expected. The Lakers also have Andrew Bynum – who was injured during the 2008 finals and was sorely missed.

Bynum, in fact, could be what makes 2010 a different series for the Lakers. The Lakers struggled to equal Boston’s physical defense and inside play with Paul Gasol, a very finesse big man, as the only true starting option down low. Bynum will be the quintessential “X factor” this year – just as he was against the Orlando Magic guarding Dwight Howard in the 2009 finals.

For the Celtics, they need to keep doing what they’ve done throughout the playoffs: play tough defense and let Rajon Rondo run the show. The Celtics’ playoff run has been nothing short of astounding thus far, and they can attribute their playoff success to those two factors. When the playoffs started, many people expected the aging Celtics to lose in the first round – to whomever they faced. It turned out that they were going up against the Miami Heat who, led by Dwyane Wade, owned the best record in the NBA after the all-star break at 21-8. The Celtics subsequently obliterated the Heat in five uncompetitive games. The Celtics followed that up by dismantling the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games (which will likely oust LeBron James from Cleveland). If that wasn’t impressive enough, the Celtics then put up a 3-0 lead on the previously undefeated Orlando Magic (8-0 in the playoffs) before the series in six games. In short, the Celtics had easily the most difficult road the NBA finals, and they made it look quite easy to get there.

If this were the regular season, it would be laughable to think that the Boston Celtics could make it to the NBA finals – or beat the LA Lakers in a seven game series. Times have changes, and the Celtics look like NBA Champions. The Celtics will defeat the Lakers in seven games.

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