This will be the 12th time the Celtics and Lakers have met in the finals, dating back to 1959. Of those twelve meetings, the Lakers have only won two of them. Typically, in every series between these two teams, home court has proven to be very convincing.
The Lakers have played great at home, winning 34 of the 57 games at the Staples Center. The Celtics, on the other hand, have a better away record. That's not to say they aren't tough at home, they just know how to win on the road.
The finals schedule the NBA has in place is actually favoring the Celtics. The Celtics will be on the road for the first two games, but then get three straight home games. In their only two meetings this season, the Lakers won in Boston and the Celtics won in Los Angeles. Both games were only decided by one point, but I believe both teams are different than they played in the regular season, so the regular season isn't much of an indicator.
I'd call it a renewed rivalry, but it looks like the Celtics have a limited amount of time to keep pushing runs like this. A rivalry, in my mind, needs to extend over several years. These two teams did go back and fourth in previous years, but the Celtics have two years at most to continue their success.
But if the Celtics can hinder the Lakers big men, they should be in a good position to win. The only problem with that theory is the Lakers have more big men than the Magic. We've seen Andrew Bynum fail before in the post season and Pau Gasol simply cannot handle a double team.
Rondo will do his thing on Derek Fisher and hopefully that will slow the Lakers offense to a pace they find frustrating. That's one of the biggest reasons why the Celtics have lasted as long as they have, because they slow the game down to the pace they want to play at.
What do the Lakers need to do? Defend their home court. Not because they aren't good at it, just because the Celtics are good on the road. The Lakers cannot afford to fly to Beantown with only one win.
If the Lakers push the tempo of the game and simply outscore the Celtics, they have the best chance of winning. Stopping Rondo seems impossible because he's either on or not. Kobe needs to be Kobe and the Lakers bench needs to be on. However, I believe the Lakers will slip once at home leaving them to scramble in Boston.
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