After last night’s Lakers’s win we now know the NBA Finals matchup. It will be the NBA classic Lakers – Celtics matchup. These are the two most successful teams not only in the NBA, but two of the most successful franchises in all sports. The two met up in 2008, although the Lakers did not have Andrew Bynum then (may as well now have him now either though) or Ron Artest. So, what are some things to look for?
- Paul Pierce and Kobe will not play as well as they did in their Conference Finals. At this point, Vince Carter couldn’t defend the bodies in my dad’s funeral home. He’s awful. Pierce abused him, and when Pierce is able to penetrate and hit his outside shots the whole Boston offense clicks. Rondo has the most ability to destroy a defense, but the Boston offense is at its best when Pierce is at his best. Now Pierce will be defended by Artest and it will be up to the Boston offense to find ways to play as well as they did in the Orlando series with Pierce not playing at that same elite level. Kobe on the other hand just cannot match that same performance he put up against the Suns. It was ridiculous. That and the Celtics play great team defense, even if it is partly due to the fact that they hack and give forearm shivers down the court every time.
- Rajon Rondo will abuse Derek Fisher. Fish played surprisingly well against the Suns. Part of that is because the Suns need to help off Kobe and part of it is because Steve Nash is an atrocious defender (which is why Rondo is the best PG in the league.) Fish is way too old to defend the disgustingly quick Rondo. From time to time, Kobe will probably have to defend Rondo just to keep him from getting into too much of a rhythm. On the bright side for Lakers fans, the Lakers have been getting abused by the best point guards in the league all playoffs and still survived.
- Ron Artest will be huge. Many in 2008 blamed the Lakers lack of toughness for their defeat. That was partly true, but the real problem was Trevor Ariza’s injury. Because he was hurt, Lamar Odom was stuck defending Paul Pierce. This. Was. A. Disaster. Pierce went off for six games and the Celtics offense was unstoppable. Ariza is gone now, but Artest has taken his place. Artest will do a much better job against Pierce than Odom did which will help limit the Celtics offense. On top of that, Odom will be able to match up with Kevin Garnett which is much easier for Odom than having to defend Pierce. It will also be really fun to see those two battle for rebounds.
Ultimately, its going to be a very fun series. Both teams took their play to a new level when the playoffs began. If either team can find an even higher level to play at, they’ll take the series. I doubt either team has that though. Ultimately, I think the Lakers reverse 2008 and win in six very tough games.