The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have played in the NBA Finals two of the past three years. Historically, when these two teams meet in the finals, exciting basketball results.
With so much talent in the NBA this season, there are a number of Finals matchups fans would pay to see. The elite teams in the NBA this season are as strong as they have been in a long time.
As players like LeBron James realize that they can lose every single game and still make the playoffs, sports fans are left to look forwards toward the playoffs, so let's start looking ahead.
The San Antonio Spurs have a reputation as a boring team. NBA executives hoping for a highly-rated NBA Finals are unlikely to be rooting for the Spurs.
Yet success breeds excitement. Besides the Lakers, the Spurs have been the dominant team of this century. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan form the longest-tenured "Big Three" in the NBA to match up with the Celtics' newer model.
The Celtics and Spurs also have shared history in the form of Tim Duncan. In 1997, the Celtics had the best odds of landing the No. 1 pick, and it was no secret that they would select Duncan. It turned out the Spurs received Duncan, and the result is history.
Celtics fans would like nothing more than to end another Duncan-led Spurs championship run.
Despite the Heat's recent losing streak, these two teams are among the most dynamic and exciting in the NBA. Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James would be a matchup between two of the greatest scorers of this generation.
Russell Westbrook and Dwyane Wade would ensure the games would keep an exciting, fast tempo. The Thunder's addition of Kendrick Perkins would also give them a bona fide enforcer to clog the lane on a team that relies on the slashing, driving ability of James and Wade.
Fans across the country would turn on their TVs to witness the enormous star power each team has to offer. And everyone loves a villain. Non-Miami fans will tune in simply to root for the Thunder (or more accurately, against James).
This matchup would feature the best storyline of any possible finals: Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups' return to Denver.
Regardless of whether either team has a legitimate shot at making their conference finals, both teams would be in the playoffs if they started today. Once a team is in, anything can happen.
In addition to the obvious Anthony-Denver intrigue (do the fans cheer or boo?), a number of players, including Raymond Felton and Danilo Gallinari would be returning to New York as well.
Aside from storylines, the Nuggets have the most points per game in the NBA and the Knicks are second. NBA fans love watching offense, and this series would provide it in droves.
New York would bring the star power and Denver would bring the plucky underdog story. This finals matchup would be a dream come true for NBA executives.
Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant are the two young players that have made the jump to superstardom over the last two seasons. Both have good teams surrounding them and both are the unquestioned leaders of their team.
Rose is averaging nearly 25 points (good for eighth in the league) and eight assists per game, while Durant is the overall scoring leader in the NBA with 28 points per game. Great games often feature great players trading blows, and it is easy to see Rose and Durant trading baskets for a stretch of the game with the crowd going crazy in the background.
A Bulls-Thunder matchup would set the stage for both teams to match their stars and leap into the spotlight for the next decade.
Average NBA fans who love high-scoring, fast-paced games might not enjoy this matchup as much as others on the list.
But it would allow the two best NBA centers to go head-to-head for a title.
Duncan has proven he can win championships. Even if his age has caught up with him and he is not the player he once was, the Spurs have ridden him, Parker and Ginobili to the best record in the West thus far.
Howard has yet to perform in big games, after memorably flopping against Kendrick Perkins and the Celtics last season. A strong postseason this year could change that perception.
A matchup between the two could make Howard's legacy or add to Duncan's. At this point in their careers, Howard has an athletic advantage. But Duncan is one of the most savvy players in the NBA and he won't like a young guy trying to push him around.
Bill Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain. Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird. Paul Pierce vs. Kobe Bryant. So it's not quite the same star vs. star vibe that Celtics-Lakers series used to feature, but the rivalry is still there.
If the Lakers win the finals this season, they would tie the Celtics for most NBA titles all-time at 17, further stoking the rivalry's fire.
The Celtics are the definition of "team," a collection of veterans led by a plucky young point guard. The Lakers are Kobe's team, no questions asked. If the team needs a basket, Kobe takes the shot—and normally makes it.
If the Celtics need to make a shot, they draw up a play for Ray Allen, Pierce or Kevin Garnett. But it is likely that Rondo will be the one starting with the ball.
The contrast in styles, historical rivalry and mental toughness on both sides would make another Celtics-Lakers final a series to remember.