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It’s All in the Game: Finals! The NBA’s Most Wanted

kobe-3

 

It’s the Lakers and Celtics in the NBA Finals, and no,

you’re not watching ESPN’s Instant

Classic – but the NBA’s flagship franchises resume their storied rivalry

Thursday in a series that promises to be on Instant

Classic reruns for years to come.

 

Much like the previous 10 times they’ve met in the Finals, Boston and Los Angeles got to this

point with loaded rosters and a knack for winning the games they couldn’t

afford to lose.

 

One thing will ring true when all is said and done: one of

the teams will have to budge and the other will hoist the trophy.

 

Let’s take a look at what has to go down for each team to

win the crown.

 

First off, understand that there is much more to Boston than just the Big

Three. Yes, the C’s lean on them quite a bit, but often it’s a role player who

makes the difference.

 

Rajon Rondo needs to set the pace with 10 dimes or a key

steal. Kendrick Perkins will have to grab a big rebound or block a shot late in

a game. And maybe on one night, James Posey will have to drive the dagger in

with a late game three. All of those guys are capable, and one of them needs to

step up because the Big Three won’t win this alone.

 

Either way, Boston is a team with many weapons, and is

plenty capable of stealing a game in L.A. just like they did twice in Detroit

in the Eastern Conference Finals.

 

The 2-3-2

format of the Finals doesn’t favor the Celtics as much as you may think. They

still get one more home game, but if the Lakers can steal one of the first two

in Boston,

they’ll have the luxury of being able to close the series out at home. Even if

each team holds service through five games, Boston would still have a ton of

pressure to win the last two games against a team with Kobe Bryant.

 

As for the Lakers, Phil Jackson knows just how crucial

finding the right defensive match-ups against a hungry veteran squad will be.

 

Sasha Vujacic needs to bother the hell out of Ray Allen, who

finally appears to be catching his stride at just the right moment. How he

fights through the various screens Boston

will throw at him is critical to preventing the big swings of momentum Allen

brings when he gets hot.

 

Kobe

will likely stick with Paul Pierce for long stretches, so he needs to be able

to shut him down while saving enough energy to take over the game offensively

in the waning moments.

 

Derek Fisher needs to stay out of the foul trouble that

plagued him for halves at a time in the Utah

series. His experience in high pressure situations could make a world of

difference against Rondo.

 

The Lakers have the luxury of throwing length at Kevin

Garnett. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom will likely each get a crack at keeping him

from getting to the basket. How they close out on his 17-foot jumpers could set

the tone for the Lakers fast break in the other direction.

 

Just like the battles between these teams in the ‘80s, each

team is talented, but maybe more importantly, each team is tough. Each have

superstars and each have depth, but what will make this match up the most

intriguing is that each team has a fantastic chance.

 

Whether Garnett, Pierce and Allen get their first rings, or

Kobe proves he can win without Shaq, these NBA Finals promise to be

outstanding. Every championship series between these rivals is.

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