NBA FINALS ARE UPON US! Who Will Win?
The NBA Finals are finally upon us. It’s about time. There was a prediction on here that the Lakers would meet the Magic in the finals. Obviously that prediction was half incorrect. But that’s neither here nor there. What matters most is that the two most storied franchises in the sport of basketball once again will meet in the NBA Finals. Before this year, the Celtics met 11 times in the Finals. The Celtics have come out victorious nine times to the Lakers two. The Celtics have 17 Championships overall. The Lakers, 15. These two teams will have participated in more than half of the championships. These two teams are the NBA. The last time the two teams met, the Celtics embarrassed the Lakers. They pushed them around. Paul Pierce did Hollywood acting in Game 1. One of, if not the biggest, comebacks in NBA Finals history in Game 4. Total annihilation in Game 6. When Radmonovic is your starting three against Paul Pierce, it’s not going to go well. With that said, this is a new year.
Let us first look at the match-ups and see where the edges lie…
Rajon Rondo v. Derek Fisher – Arguably the best point guard in the league vs. the crafty veteran. It’s possible that Fisher does not check Rondo on defense because of Rondo’s speed and ability to take contact. Fisher had trouble against Westbrook who is equally as fast and likely a little stronger. He did okay against Williams in Round Two, who is strong and fast. He played well against Nash, but Rondo is stronger than Nash. There is no telling what Jackson will do. It’s likely he will start with Fisher on Rondo and move Kobe on to him if Rondo is playing extremely well. Obviously with the entire discussion focused on who Fisher had to check and whether he may be able to do so in this series, the edge goes to Rondo. He doesn’t have a great jump shot. May not even be a good one. But he knows how to get his teammates open and he knows how to score early to get his team going. Fisher will hit a couple huge shots here and there. Hopefully it wins the Lakers a game, because Rondo will show why he is considered one of the best point guards today and why Celtics legends call him the Franchise’s best point guard ever.
Kobe Bryant vs. Ray Allen – I think we know who has the edge in this match-up. Kobe has gone for 30 points in 10 of the last 11 games. He is on a mission. We all know that he will show up in one way or another. Kobe has the opportunity to match Magic and whoever else is in the discussion as the greatest Laker ever. He has four rings. He can tie other Laker greats if he wins another one this year. It’s likely that he’s going for six or seven before he’s all done. We all know why. So it’s safe to assume that the best player in the game will show up this time around. This time he’ll have his entire team, even though they are not all 100%. Neither is he. And look what he has done these playoffs (with the exception of a few OKC games). However, we should not expect Ray Allen to just crawl into a hole. He has been playing well this postseason so he will at least hold his own. He should have a couple big games but Kobe is likely to play well whether his team is or not. He is the hardest working player in the game and isn’t called the Assassin for no reason.
Paul Pierce vs. Ron Artest – Have to give the edge to Paul Pierce. Very slight edge. Ron Artest may do enough to minimize the damage enough for the Lakers to win a ring, but Paul will still get his. If Artest can manage him and not allow him to go off like he did two years ago, Ron Artest won’t have a problem not having the edge. I’m personally not a big fan of Paul Pierce. He is too good of a player to be so dramatic. If this match-up is in any way close to a wash, the Lakers definitely win the title. If Ron Artest can get on fire for a couple of games like he did against the Jazz and Suns, it weighs in the Lakers favor even more. However, Pierce will get his. It’s up to Ron Artest to play enough defense to minimize the damage and enough offense to free up space for Kobe.
Kevin Garnett vs. Pau Gasol – Master of the post offense against the master of the post defense. Let’s give a slight edge to Gasol. Kevin Garnett has been regular this postseason. He had an average Eastern Conference Finals. He is still great on the defensive end but it’s not clear whether he will be able to produce as much as Gasol if Gasol plays tough enough. Gasol has gone through two finals and is now comfortable with the big stage. So let’s assume he will do just fine this time around against the Celtics. That leaves Garnett’s offensive game to be the tie-breaker. It’s not quite there. He’ll get just enough but just enough may not be enough this time around. The Celtics play great defense and they worked wonders against the Magic, but the Lakers aren’t as one-dimensional as the Magic. And the Lakers aren’t the same team as two years ago. Gasol isn’t either.
Andrew Bynum vs. Kendrick Perkins – Wash. As long as Andrew Bynum is able to play, this is a wash. His size will be needed and if he can play enough just to keep up with the bigs of the Celtics, this match-up is just a bonus for both. Perkins will do a little here and there. Bynum will do a little here and there. They are both there for size against the other team’s big men. Not much to say here. Just good to see the entire team playing on both sides (with the exception of Daniels, who doesn’t matter much)
Bench – Odom, Farmar, Brown, Vujacic, Walton vs Robinson, Wallace, Davis, Allen, Finley. Robinson and Farmar will be sparks off the bench and will probably be a wash if either can produce well enough. Brown and Allen will play similar roles and whatever they can do on offense and defense, respectively, will help in determining who wins the Championship. Davis has the edge over Walton only because he is going to score more and will play against the big men. If he goes off, that will be a problem for the Lakers. If Walton can hold his own while he is on the court, the Lakers will be happy. The biggest issue for both teams are Odom and Wallace. Whoever plays better between the two will probably determine who wins a ring this year. Odom has been playing great. Wallace finally showed up in the postseason. However, Wallace is having back problems and isn’t extremely consistent. Neither is Odom but he is more reliable than Wallace. Edge goes to the Lakers, but not by too much.
So there you go, the NBA Finals. Predictions coming soon!