Lakers vs. Celtics Game Five: A Turning Point in NBA History

Asher ChanceySenior Analyst IJune 13, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 10:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers puts his arm on Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics in Game Three of the 2008 NBA Finals on June 10, 2008 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics play Game Five of the NBA Finals in Boston tonight, and all that is riding on this game is the future of the free world.

Okay, maybe not.  But it's close.

Tonight's game is the definition of a pivotal game: with the series tied 2-2 and heading back to Los Angeles for Game Six and then, if necessary, Game Seven, the winner of tonight's game becomes the prohibitive favorite to win the NBA Championship while the loser of this game is virtually assured to lose the series.

But looking beyond the outcome of these NBA Finals, the outcome of tonight's game will have repercussions that will be felt like shock waves through the basketball world.

Let's have a look:

Hypothetical Scenario One: Lakers Win Game Five

The Boston Celtics will have to be playing the best ball of the season tonight because of one simple truth: if the Los Angeles Lakers win Game Five and go back to Los Angeles needing to win only one of two games at home to take the title, this series is over.  

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The Lakers have only lost one playoff game at home in these playoffs, and it was to the Celtics; no way the Lakers lose three out of four games at home in one series.

If the Lakers win tonight, they win the 2010 NBA Finals.

Show 'em what they've won.

It has been widely reported that Phil Jackson is ready to walk away from the Lakers after this season.  The Greatest Coach of All Time is 65 years old and his 6'8" frame suffers through the NBA season almost as though he were playing the games himself.

But make no mistake: If the Lakers win the 2010 NBA Finals, and have a chance to go for a three-peat next season, Phil Jackson is in.  Phil has said so himself. 

“Yeah, if we win, it’s almost imperative to give it another shot,” Jackson said. “We [would] have a chance to do something special and unique again.”

So, if the Lakers win the 2010 NBA Finals, Jackson returns with his entire team in tact next season to take a shot at a third straight title.  That means the Kobe-Gasol-Odom Lakers would be looking to join the incredibly short list of other dynasties that have three straight titles:

The Shaq-Kobe Lakers

The Jordan-Pippen-Rodman Bulls

The Jordan-Pippen-Grant Bulls

The Russell-Everybody Celtics

The Mikan Lakers

Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant would go into the 2010-2011 season one championship away from his second three-peat, and we all know what that means.

We enter the And Then There Was Two Era of NBA History—there's Jordan, there's Kobe, and then there's everyone else.  And, more than likely, LeBron James will not be in a position to match either of them.

Speaking of LeBron, a Lakers win in the NBA Finals maintains the current power structure in the NBA, a power structure LeBron and his new team likely doesn't crack for at least another two years.

With all players returning in 2010-2011, the Lakers remain the power center of the league and have all the momentum, with inadequate challengers: the aging Celtics, the re-booted in another city LeBrons, the we've already peaked Suns, and the maybe-just-one-more-time Spurs.

You can throw in Dwight Howard and the Magic as well, but they have to get to the Finals against the Lakers next season to prove they belong.

Meanwhile, the current era of Boston Celtics is over.  Kevin Garnett enters the David Robinson End Stage, 'Sheed is history as a Celtic, and the franchise begins to re-boot around Rajon Rondo.

The current era of NBA basketball lives on for another year, with Phil Jackson cementing his legacy as the greatest coach of all time, and Kobe Bryant putting himself in striking distance of Michael Jordan.

If the Lakers win tonight.

Hypothetical Scenario Number Two: The Celtics Win Game Five

The Boston Celtics have already proved that they can beat L.A. in L.A., and this team is too good to give away two games in a row to the Lakers out west if they need only one to win it all.

If the Celtics win tonight, they win the 2010 NBA Finals.

Show 'em What They've Won

The Garnett-Pierce-Allen-Rondo Celtics will have won their second NBA Finals in three years.

How important is that?  

Just ask Joe Dumars, who won two Finals with the Bad Boys Pistons early in his career and then not much else for the rest of his career, but went to the Hall of Fame nonetheless.

Just ask Hakeem Olajuwon, who was considered a troubled superstar until he won two straight titles with the Rockets during the Jordan Sabbatical.

Just ask the 2006 Miami Heat, 2004 Pistons, and 1983 Philadelphia 76ers.  All three of these teams had great teams, won only one NBA Championship, and became footnotes to NBA history.

They are also the only three championship teams to only win one championship in their current incarnation in the last 30 years.

You have to win two championships to be solidified as a Great Team in NBA history.

With their second championship, the current Celtics incarnation takes its place in history and fades into the sunset.  In L.A., the current Lakers Era is over.  Phil Jackson leaves, Ron Artest and maybe even Lamar Odom leaves, the Kobe-Gasol show lives on under a different coach, and we begin a different era.

Kobe remains two championships away from Jordan, and suddenly looks a bit old.

With L.A.'s current run over and Boston re-booting, the power-structure in the NBA shifts and is suddenly wide open for LeBron James, Dwight Howard, or perhaps even Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, or Amare Stoudamire to step in and become the NBA's Alpha Dog.

Meanwhile, the most fascinating rumor speculation of all time kicks into high gear.

Despite all talk of age, knees, back, and grueling 100 game seasons/postseasons on the road, Phil Jackson takes center stage as the world ponders whether he has it in him to match forces in some NBA city—perhaps New York—with LeBron James and form the most diabolical player-coach marriage in NBA history.

Truly, a new era of NBA basketball would begin.

If the Boston Celtics win tonight.

Asher B. Chancey lives in Philadelphia, PA and is a co-founder of .