Two of the NBA’s storied franchises meet tonight in the NBA Finals. The Boston Celtics are going for their 18th title, while L.A. Lakers are going for their 17th. They last met two years ago in the 08′ finals, when the Celtics defeated the Lakers 4-2. In that series the Celtics were clearly the deeper, more physical team. The Lakers were playing without Andrew Bynum and at the time Trevor Ariza wasn’t receiving the playing time that he had in the 09′ playoffs. The Lakers were stuck with Sasha Vujacic and Vladimir Radmanovic receiving heavy minutes in key situations and it hurt the Lakers defensively and from a toughness standpoint. Pau Gasol was a difference maker for the Lakers since they had received him in 08′ from the Memphis Grizzlies in a trade, but his lack of playoff experience and toughness was exposed in the finals that year. The Celtics are as tough as they were two years ago, add in the fact that Rajon Rondo is a better player then in 08′, and they have replaced Leon Powe with a veteran, battle tested Rasheed Wallace. The key to this series is going to be the Ron Artest versus Paul Pierce match-up, along with the chance that Kendrick Perkins gets a technical foul and ends up missing a game. If I were on the Lakers, I would provoke Perkins into a scrap and force his temper to get the best of him. That being said, Kobe’s going to be Kobe and it’s going to be a great series. I pick the Lakers in 7 games.
The NBA Finals begin tonight