People forget about two key injuries in the 2008 series: Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza, both starters on the 2009 championship team. That's 2/5ths of the starting lineup missing!
Both players were major components to winning it all and Bynum still is. He won't dominate offensively, but he doesn't need to. In fact, his matchup with Perkins is a wash, and that's fine, because every minute that Perkins keys-in on Bynum is a minute that Pau Gasol won't be getting pushed around.
Mobile tree stumps like Kendrick Perkins make life miserable for finesse guys like Pau. He'll score while Bynum serves as a decoy for the Celtics brutish bruiser.
Ron Artest took the mid-level exception to play for a championship, and here it is. Ron's presence benefits the Lakers on several fronts: First, he takes full Paul Pierce duty. There you go, Kobe. You're free from that assignment.
Paul Pierce is a tremendous player with transcendent ability. He's also the ideal matchup for Artest, a scoring small forward who's strong but not lightning fast. Pierce's morning routine for the next two weeks will to apply deodorant, apply Ron Artest, put on jersey.
And do you remember who L.A. started at small forward in 2008?
Take a moment. Run the possible names through you head.
Yes, that's right. Vlad Rad was the starting small forward on a Finals team! And you wonder how Paul Pierce went off in that series! Better yet, (I mean worse yet) Luke Walton was the primary backup.
This season, thanks to health, the three spot is manned by Ron Artest and Lamar Odom. Can you say major upgrade?
The Celtics got a pass in 2009 because of the Kevin Garnett injury. Bostonians say everyone would be talking three-peat if KG hadn't gone down. By the same token, we could be talking about a Lakers three-peat if Bynum and Ariza weren't hurt in '08.
Doc Rivers is quick to point out that the Celtics' starting lineup, when intact, has never lost a playoff series. The same could be said for the Lakers' starting lineup.