The two most decorated franchises in NBA history – the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics – will battle for the 12th time in the NBA Finals. The Celtics hold a 9-2 edge in the prior meetings and the Lakers hope to close that gap by defending their title. Together these teams have won more NBA Championships (32) than the rest of the league (31) combined.
The Celtics and Lakers are four wins away from their 18th and 16th NBA Championships respectively. The Celtics defeated Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat; LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers; and Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic to win the 2010 Eastern Conference Championship. If they want to win their 18th championship banner they will have to beat Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers as well. The Lakers earned their spot in the 2010 NBA Finals by beating the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder, the disciplined Utah Jazz, and the run-and-gun Phoenix Suns.
In 2008, when these two teams last met in the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics basically emasculated the Lakers with a 39-point Game 6 victory to close out the series. The Lakers will get their chance to exorcise those demons beginning June 3rd.
2010 NBA Finals Schedule
Game 1: Thursday, June 3, Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers, 6:00 PM PDT
Game 2: Sunday, June 6, Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers, 5:00 PM PDT
Game 3: Tuesday, June 8, Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics, 6:00 PM PDT
Game 4: Thursday, June 10, Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics, 6:00 PM PDT
Game 5: Sunday, June 13, Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics, 5:00 PM PDT (if necessary)
Game 6: Tuesday, June 15, Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers, 6:00 PM PDT (if necessary)
Game 7: Thursday, June 17, Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers, 6:00 PM PDT (if necessary)
In order for the Celtics to wrest the NBA Championship from the Lakers they must win a game at the Staples Center. With Los Angeles having home-court advantage in this series the Celtics have to win at least one game at the Staples Center to have any chance at winning the championship.
Defense has carried the Celtics to the 2010 NBA Finals and if they want to win their final game of the season they will have to call upon that defense to stop Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. To win this series the Celtics defense will have to create a wall around Kobe Bryant, cut off his passing lanes, and rotate when the basketball moves from one side of the floor to the other. The Lakers are a very good passing team and the Celtics will have to rotate to not just the first pass but the second pass too.
Another issue the Boston Celtics have to contend with is Kendrick Perkins’ technical foul situation. Perkins currently has six technical fouls in the playoffs and if he picks up another technical during the NBA Finals he will be suspended for one game. If the Celtics are forced to play a Finals game without Perkins they will basically be giving a game away, especially if that game happens to be in Los Angeles. Therefore, it is imperative that Perkins avoids picking up a technical foul during this series.
If the Lakers want to win back-to-back NBA Championships they will have to control Rajon Rondo. Rondo is the motor that makes the Celtics go and if he is allowed to penetrate the lane he will cause all types of problems for the Lakers’ defense. To maintain the integrity of their defense it will be important for the Lakers to limit Rondo’s forays into the lane. It is likely that Kobe Bryant will be assigned with the task of minimizing Rondo’s effectiveness.
Ron Artest will be a major factor in this series. His ability to defend and make open shots may prove to be the difference in the 2010 NBA Finals. In their two regular season games Artest held Pierce to 13 points per game on 40% shooting (well below his season averages of 18.3 and 47.2%). If Artest makes life difficult for Pierce he will do exactly what the Lakers signed him to do. Ron Artest appears to be finding his way in the triangle offense at just the right time but anything he gives them offensively will just be icing on the cake.
The 2010 NBA Finals will be decided by will and determination. This is one of the storied rivalries in all of sports and the team that wins the 2010 NBA Championship will be the team that maintains their focus and imposes their will in the midst of adversity. This will be a gritty and grimy series and the winner of this series will have to be willing to get down and dirty and do whatever it takes to take the series from the other. At this stage of the season the winner will have to take what they want because nothing will simply be given to them.
Prediction: Lakers 4-2
Click here for Los Angeles Lakers’ Road to the 2010 NBA Finals.
Click here for Boston Celtics’ Road to the 2010 NBA Finals.
Information from NBA Championships: Year by Year Champions, 2010 NBA Finals Schedule, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics-Recap-June 17, 2008, Kendrick Perkins Stats, and Paul Pierce Stats was used for this article.