Lakers vs. Celtics: Why Marquee Matchup Is Preview of 2012 NBA Finals

Alex KayCorrespondent IFebruary 9, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Ray Allen #20 of the Boston Celtics looks to move the ball as he is covered by Derek Fisher #2 and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first quarter of Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics meet tonight for the first of two scheduled matchups.

But these two may just be facing one another again after the regular season ends.

That’s right, this could definitely be a preview for a NBA Finals matchup.

Each team has just 14 wins right now, but they are loaded with savvy veteran talent that will make sure their respective squads make the postseason.

Plus, it’s a whole different set of rules once the playoffs begin.

Here are some reasons why both the Lakers and Celtics are still championship contenders.

 

Experience

BOSTON - MAY 28:  (L-R) Paul Pierce #34, Ray Allen #20, Kevin Garnett #5 and Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics look on against the Orlando Magic in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on May 28, 2010 in B
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In the playoffs, there are no back-to-backs or three games in four-night stretches that hinder these aging franchises and allow younger teams to outrun and outgun them.

You play a game, you get a night off and that will certainly be a major factor in why the Lakers and Celtics, respectively the third- and fourth-oldest teams in the league, will be fresh and ready to compete in every contest come May.

 

Star Power

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 27:  (C) Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers gives teammates (L) Pau Gasol #16 and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Lakers a high five against the Denver Nuggets in the second quarter of Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during
Harry How/Getty Images

Both of these rosters are loaded with talent in their starting five and these teams aren’t afraid to give their stars big minutes when their season is on the line. Depth isn’t as crucial once the regular season is over.

Boston has their Big Three—Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce—along with Rajon Rondo. This group has gone on multiple, deep postseason runs since being assembled in 2007.

L.A. will prove they are still dangerous with Kobe Bryant leading the scoring charge while Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol dominate in the paint.

If everyone is healthy going into the playoffs, both squads are a force to be reckoned with.

 

Defense

It wins championships.

The Celtics are first in the league in points against (86.5) while the Lakers are ranked No. 4 (91.0).

When it comes down to it, preventing the opposition from scoring while steadily pouring in buckets is something that both these teams excel at.

It’s also what any team needs to do well to make the NBA Finals and a huge reason why this rivalry could be renewed again in June.