The winner of tonight’s NBA Finals Game Seven, and thus the NBA Championship, is solely dependent on whose superstars show up.
So far in the series, when you break down every game, the winning team usually possessed an outstanding performance by one of its players.
Surprisingly thus far, whoever that player is, it hasn’t been the superstars we would expect.
In Game Two it was Ray Allen with his record-setting three-pointer night.
In Game Three it was Derek Fisher with his fourth quarter heroics.
Game Five showed the Celtics bench stepping up, with “Shrek” and “Donkey," better known as Glen “Big Baby” Davis (how many nicknames does this guy have?) and Nate Robinson scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter.
In Game Six Kobe Bryant picked up 26 points and 11 rebounds en route to a Laker blowout for the night.
In Game Seven then, the answer to the question of “who wins?” is a question in itselfwho steps up?
Will Kobe repeat Game Six, possibly solidifying a spot right next to, or even above, Michael Jordan as the game's greatest player?
Will it be the Laker bench, or Paul Pierce, neither of which haven’t had much of a showing thus far? There is a strong possibility it could even come down to Phil Jackson, who up to this point has been equally, if not out-coached.
Which team has the upper hand heading into tonight’s match? Well, they both have a lot going for them.
For the Celtics, it’s the fact that the team has beaten the Lakers in every previous Game Seven match the two powerhouses have ever played, and so far this series the Celts have won immediately following any loss to L.A.
Added to that is the fact that neither Kobe nor Jackson, who together have a combined 14 titles, have ever played in a Game Seven for any of those 14. For the Lakers it’s, well, just about everything else.
A starting center and defensive force on the opposing team who is out with torn knee ligaments. A home court advantage under the bright lights on one of the biggest stages.
They have a coach who has won 10 titles, as well as debatably the best player in the NBA, who, when he wants to, can turn on his game at such a high level that nobody can stop him.
Writer’s Prediction: L.A. wins it
If there is one thing I know for certain, it’s when L.A. and Kobe actually want to play, nobody can stop them—evidenced by both Games One and Six.
It’s unfortunate that people who are paid millions of dollars to do what they supposedly love have to be motivated to play hard in the face of achieving their greatest professional achievements.
Nonetheless, tonight is one of those nights where Kobe, Gasol, and Phil will be motivated literally like never before.
That coupled with the defensive absence of Perkins will allow the Lakers to do pretty much anything they want.