Finally, the day has come.
The week long wait that seemed like over a month is now over.
We’ve seen all the highlights from past LA-Boston Finals match ups, and we’ve heard all the sound bites.
Now it’s time to see which team will draw first blood tonight at the Staples Center in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
This series doesn’t come down to which team has the best player.
If it did, then I would bet the farm on the Lakers.
The NBA Finals comes down to who has the best team.
That’s why Boston will come out on top.
Right now, there is no better player in the league or the world than Kobe Bryant.
Kobe will make his presence felt in all aspects of the game to say the very least.
His supporting cast is strong, but not strong enough.
Ron Artest is going to make life very difficult for Paul Pierce on the offensive end.
Artest has more size and strength.
Pierce is going to depend on the Celtics’ big men to set picks on Artest in order to get room to operate and get his offense going.
The Celtics will have either Ray Allen or Paul Pierce face off against Kobe to start the game.
But the Celtics player who is best suited to contain Kobe Bryant is Tony Allen. Tony looked very strong and healthy in the Cleveland series when he was able to slow down Lebron James.
But, he had some injury trouble against Orlando and didn’t see as much action.
Let’s hope the rest over the past week did Tony a world of good as the Celtics will need everything he has off the bench in guarding Kobe and providing some offense along the way as well.
Pau Gasol against Kevin Garnett is going to be a great match up.
Pau added some bulk since the ’08 series that will make things more even between these two.
Gasol is a very dynamic frontcourt player who uses his left hand about as well as anyone in the league.
But, Garnett has a better overall arsenal in the post, can shoot from further out, and has the edge defensively as well.
Shannon Brown could play a major role in this series off the bench for the Lakers.
Though Brown can put points up on the board, he might make his biggest mark on the series in taking on Ray Allen on defense.
If Kobe covers Rajon Rondo, then Derek Fisher would have to match up with Ray Allen.
Fisher is strong as an ox, but Allen would use his reach advantage to shoot right over him.
The Lakers are likely to look to the 6’4’’ Shannon Brown to come off the bench and bottle up Ray Allen.
Allen is so skilled at moving without the ball and rolling off screens to catch and shoot that there isn’t really anyone that can prevent him from making noise (even Kobe Bryant).
Jordan Farmar is going to come off the bench and spend a lot of time chasing Rajon Rondo around.
I wouldn’t even be surprised to see Phil Jackson start Farmar in one or more of these games despite the veteran leadership and proven track record of Derek Fisher.
There’s so many different ways that Rondo can hurt you, and whether it’s by slicing through the defense and racking up points and assists, or creating turnovers on the defensive end, Rondo will find a way to get it done.
Kendrick Perkins’ defense has been so valuable to this team particularly in the last round playing against Dwight Howard.
I expect the Celtics to deliver the ball inside to Perkins early and often to test Andrew Bynum and see how his knee is going to stand up to the pressure.
Maybe Perkins will be able to play big on the offensive end with a semi healthy Bynum on him.
Another technical will unfortunately force Perkins to watch a game from the sidelines and as Doc Rivers said, “It's very likely…I don't like why it's likely, but we are a physical team. That's who we are. The Lakers are saying they're going to be physical. So there's going to be a double technical in this series, and if there's a double technical in the series, there's a very good chance it'll be with Perk involved. ... And that hurts us."
It hurts the Celtics but not nearly as much as it would’ve hurt them in the Orlando series.
Celtics fans will be keeping their fingers crossed hoping Perkins doesn’t get T’d up, but having Perkins out of the lineup is not an automatic win for Los Angeles.
It’s going to be interesting to see what will happen if the Lakers play Bynum, Gasol, and Odom all at once.
Perhaps the best option for the Celtics in that scenario would be to put Perk on Bynum, Rasheed Wallace on Gasol, and Kevin Garnett on Lamar Odom.
Glen Davis has great agility for a man of his size, but it’s going to be tough for him to stay in front of Lamar Odom or Pau Gasol.
For Davis, he would probably have the easiest time with Bynum, but the Celtics might call on him to cover Gasol, and possibly even Odom.
One thing that “Big Baby” has shown time and time again throughout this postseason is that he will make his minutes count off the Celtics’ bench.
Nate Robinson provided a massive spark when Rondo was sidelined in Game 6 to help the Celtics close out the Eastern Conference Finals, and hopefully the little guy will come up with some more thrilling plays in this series.
Michael Finley has been super quiet this postseason, but the NBA Finals could be the time where Finley heats up and makes his mark on this team.
People love to talk about Lebron James, but I don’t think there is anything better for the NBA than the Celtics and Lakers in the NBA Finals.
Either Phil Jackson is going to get his eleventh Championship, and Kobe his fifth, or the Boston Celtics will win Banner 18 by once again dismantling the Los Angeles Lakers.
The champagne will flow in only one locker room.
When it’s all said and done, it will be the “Men in Green” that will pour it while puffing on Red Auerbach “Victory Cigars.”