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Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers Set for Finals Rematch: Just Like Old Times

BOSTON - JANUARY 31:  Kobe Bryant  #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket against the defense of  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics in the second half at the TD Garden on January 31, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts.  The Lakers won 90-89. 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 Jim Rogash /Getty Images)
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stephen rileyCorrespondent IMay 20, 2010

Thanks to a rejuvenated Kevin Garnett, we can do without a pair puppets and a possible Kobe/LeBron matchup because we’ll be getting the next best thing: Boston vs. L.A.

No disrespect to Orlando and Phoenix, but let’s be serious—it’s all about the Lakers and Celtics this year, again. It’s typically out of my character to just write teams off in the middle of a series, but why not? Everybody else is doing it. I couldn’t wait to get a crack at previewing this series, with so many twists and plots, it should be another great one.

So if Boston and L.A. do eventually matchup for the 12th time in NBA Finals history, things should be pretty interesting. Despite the historic brilliance of both clubs, the Celtics/Lakers Finals series has been pretty one-sided so far.

Boston owns a 9-2 edge in the series with their last victory coming in 2008, when visions of a Boston comeback, a Boston blowout, and Doc Rivers being doused with Gatorade defined the series. But things could be different this time around. Or could they?

After all, Pau Gasol is a better player, Kobe Bryant is still Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Lakers are more experienced and better equipped to scrap with a rough and rugged Boston squad. But Boston is also sporting a different look these days.

Gone is the dominance of the “Big Three” and in is the superstardom of All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo. Rondo’s emergence has continued the Celtics’ image of a lock and block defensive unit while upping the tempo and transforming them into a fast-paced drive and dish team.

The Lakers have had a history of being openly victimized by athletic point guards and a new defensive game plan will have to be in order for a Finals rematch. Bryant exclusively locked up with Rondo in the ’08 Finals in an effort to give him a rest on defense and out of chasing Boston sniper Ray Allen off screens.

But Rondo was nowhere near the scorer in ’08 that he is now so Bryant typically gave him an open cushion and the green light to launch jumpers. While perimeter shooter still isn’t one of Rondo’s strengths, it would be a huge mistake for the Lakers to put Bryant on him again should the teams meet.

Rondo has stamina to burn while Bryant, 31, is nowhere near the thoroughbred he used to be. But L.A. will be in a tough position regardless because putting Derek Fisher on Rondo will be just an open invitation to the rim for the Celtics point guard.

There’ll be a lot of clashes in this possible series to keep note of; Ron Artest vs. Paul Pierce and Gasol vs. Kevin Garnett will both weigh heavily on the outcome but Boston doesn’t have a man to check Lamar Odom off the bench and with the way Odom is playing right now, the Celtics will definitely have to key on him.

Everything about this series screams television viewership records from the names on the front of jerseys to the ones on the back. No other teams are hotter right now than the Lakers and Celtics. Los Angeles has turned into a scoring machine while Boston has been the premiere defensive unit of the postseason.

It shouldn’t be long now, just have to wait for Orlando and Phoenix to lie down and let history take its course. The last two NBA Champions set to slug it out in what could be the last hurrah for both clubs. Kobe vs. LeBron would’ve been nice but who needs puppets when you've got the Celtics and Lakers? 

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