Well today is the day. LA Lakers vs Boston Celtics.. again. Call me crazy, but I am going to go out on a limb and make predictions one more time this season. I nailed the first round, and most of the Western Conference. However, my underestimation of the Boston Celtics pretty much ruined my bracket. I say no more! This time I am going to call it and get it right, so here goes.
Kobe Bryant is among the best players in the NBA ever, and Ray Allen is among the best shooters in the NBA ever. They seem to share a mutual dislike for eachother dating back to Ray Allen’s days in Seattle, if not further. Kobe will be forced to run around and defend him all series or try to shut down Rajon Rondo instead. Rondo is making a case for himself being considered the best point guard in the league. The only problem is that he is banged up and the Celtics need him to run the show or they will be in trouble. They got a lift from Nate Robinson in Game 6 against Orlando, but that can’t be expected to work all series against LA. Derek Fisher is the weakest link here for either team, but that isn’t saying much as he is not a very mistake prone player and has a knack for hitting a timely shot or two in crunch time.
Lamar Odom and Ron Artest will be bothersome to say the least. Paul Pierce had his way with the Lakers pre-Ariza/Artest era, but it’s a different situation now. If Pierce can get going at all in this series it will help to keep Artest less active on offense, but the jury is out on how effective either can be against each other. KG has obviously lost a step since the Celtics won in 2008, but he has learned to adjust quite well. I’m sure it helps when you have a decent supporting cast around you. The question is how they will contain Pau Gasol. Presumably, Kendrick Perkins will do the honors of guarding Gasol most of the time, and that would be fine but there is one worrisome factor here. Perkins is one tech short of a one game suspension. Can he keep under control enough to not get T’d up or ejected? Then there’s Bynum who is still having problems with his knee. How effective can he be? I’m guessing not as effective as Rasheed Wallace - and that’s not saying much.
Both teams have decent benches that can give them a boost when needed. Odom may start with Bynum having issues with the knee, but the Lakers also have Farmar, Shannon Brown, and Adam Morrison (just kidding). The Celtics can lean on Tony Allen sometimes (of course that could mean a timely five points or untimely five turnovers), and Nate Robinson in the backcourt, with Rasheed and Glen Davis in the frontcourt.
Then there’s the Phil Jackson factor. Phil is a far better coach than Rivers, but Doc has surprised me lately. He is doing all the right things and navigated the Eastern Conference with relative ease.
In the end, I think the Celtics have the edge. They beat Orlando and Cleveland without home court so I don’t see why they couldn’t beat LA in a series format that arguably favors the road team. My prediction: Celtics in 6