Lakers-Celtics Preview: Who Will Win Tonight?

John LewisSenior Writer IJune 17, 2008

We all know Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant are playing it cool in front of the press about being down in the series and having to go back to Boston to win two games.

That's fine and dandy, but will this laid back spirit translate into some wins?

Of course if Boston has a vote they would like to finish out the finals tonight in grand style but with the injuries and pressure of not blowing a 3-1 lead, the Celtics have a lot riding on tonight's game.

Bryant is making it clear that he doesn't have to score 40 a night in order for the Lakers to win, but I say he does.

Just look at his scoring output and you be the judge: in the first game he scored 24 points in a loss, the second game he scored 30 points in a loss. 

In L.A. he scored 36 in a game three win and 17 in a game four loss. Game five he scored 25 and needed a defensive stop with less than a minute to play to take the lead and win the game.

That tells me two things, either the other role players aren't providing enough support or Bryant needs to score more than 35 points for his team to win.

This doesn't inspire much confidence with the series back in Beantown. 

On the other side, Kevin Garnett and company have done a good job on the defensive end to slow down Kobe and his band of role players and nearly pulled out a game five win.

Paul Pierce has put on an MVP type performance so far and will need to play big in game six as well.

The keys to the remaining games are simple, everyone from each team will need to step up big.

For the Celtics that means Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins need to man up and play through the injuries.  The most difficult mental block may be with Ray Allen, who's dealing with personal issues.

For the Lakers it doesn't get any more clear than this: play hard and score more points or go home.

Bryant is facing a hole that even Michael Jordan himself never got out of, but this is where he can show his true competitiveness.

My predication is Boston wins by less than 10 points and hoists their 17th NBA championship banner in the Garden.

Boston can not afford to make this a seven game series so closing it out tonight is the only thing they need to think about.