There was much hype coming into the 2010 NBA Finals, as two old school rivals faced off yet again. The NBA's two most successful franchises, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, met for the 12th time in Finals history, in a series which put a finish to the sports seasons that began in 2009.
The storylines for this Finals were nothing short of epic. The Celtics and Lakers were each attempting to win their second championship in the past three years, with the Lakers going for a repeat. In terms of all-time championships, the Celtics had a chance to further distance themselves from the Lakers by winning their 18th title, leaving the Lakers with 15. On the other end, the Lakers could narrow the gap to 17-16, a tally still slightly in favor of Boston.
Boston, coming into these Finals, was 9-2 in their Finals history against Los Angeles. The series would decide whether the green could continue their historical dominance against the yellow and purple, adding to what made this an incredibly important Finals.
The Celtics came into the NBA playoffs as the fourth seed, but after their late season struggles, few had them making it out of the first round. And yet, they not only knocked off the Miami Heat in five games in round one, but also proceeded to upset both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic in the next two rounds, who had the NBA's best and second best records, respectively. Boston beat expectations to advance to the Finals for the second time in three years.
The Lakers, meanwhile, were the defending champions, and, as the top seed, they were the favorite to once again win the West. While it was no easy road, Los Angeles managed to knock off the feisty Thunder, sweep the Jazz, and finish the Phoenix Suns in six to advance to the Finals for the third straight year.
The Finals itself proved to be one for the ages. The two teams went back and forth all series long. While the Celtics were far outplayed in Game One by L.A., a three-point clinic put on by Ray Allen in Game Two led the Celts to a series-tying victory before the series moved to Boston.
The three games held in Beantown were each hard-fought, close battles. The team that was able to dominate the boards won, which was true for the entire series. While the Lakers grabbed Game Three, the Celtics bench far outplayed the Lakers bench to help Boston take the final two Boston games as well as a 3-2 Finals lead.
The Lakers, however, responded quickly and harshly. Game Six was the lone blowout of the series, and for the Boston Celtics, it was not a pretty sight. Los Angeles dominated Boston in every way imaginable to even the series, setting the stage for a championship-deciding Game Seven.
The Finals became the only championship series of the season as well as the only NBA Finals in five years to go to a Game Seven. While Lakers coach Phil Jackson had never lost a series in which his team got off to a 1-0 start, the Celtics had never lost a series in which they had a 3-2 lead, and had also never lost a Game Seven in a playoff series. Something had to give.
Though the Celtics at one point led by 13 and led after the first, second, and third quarters, it was not to be for Boston. The Lakers had a great fourth quarter, and it propelled them to their second consecutive championship. The comeback put the Lakers ahead for good by four points, and it was just four points that decided the NBA's champion.
The constant back-and-forth battling in this NBA Finals is what made it the best playoff series of this past sports season. The gameplay of the series lived up to all of the hype and storylines, and it has won this series the 1999 NLCS Award.