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Lakers vs. Celtics 2010: When Nothing Else Matters

Jon LeeCorrespondent IJune 17, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 15:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics and Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers jump in the second quarter in Game Six of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 15, 2010 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

I knew we would end up here.

Not when the season started, or even when the playoffs began. But as soon as we saw this version of the Lakers and this version of the Celtics heading into the Finals; I knew we were going seven.

This series has not been a pretty one, but it's been close, compelling, and competitive. However, it has not pretty or necessarily well-played (as the shooting percentages will tell you).

My personal nemesis, Kobe Bryant, has been brilliant at times, but he has often dominated the offense, to the detriment of his teammates.

Rajon Rondo has temporarily regressed against the Lakers. He was injured in the last game against Orlando, and didn't really seem to be himself until about Game Five. He's now taken a clear backseat to Paul Pierce.

None of that, or the other storylines involving Pierce, Artest, Gasol, or the Lakers bench matter anymore.

We have one game to decide NBA superiority.

Celtics fans want to rant about the last stand of the Big Three; Lakers fans want to talk about Kobe's legacy. Neither of those things will matter on the court tonight.

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Here's the facts: The Lakers have homecourt and a crowd that ,despite it's preference for text messaging, can affect the game (and refs). The Lakers have the best player, the Mamba, and they have a bench that only shows up at home. 

The Celtics have lost their starting center, and will most likely start Rasheed Wallace. They're an older team on less than 48 hours rest since they were blown out on Tuesday. Nevertheless, they are a tough veteran team with pride, who knows they can beat the Lakers in Staples Center.

I think there are three major factors that will alter this game.

1. Tempo

If Rondo can get the Celtics out in transition off of Lakers misses, the Celtics will win. Rondo is the X-factor in this game, as he's the one player for which the Lakers don't have an answer. My guess is they don't want to have Kobe run around chasing him for 40 minutes.

2. Rebounding

The Lakers KILL teams on the offensive and defensive boards. The trio of Gasol, Bynum and Odom is huge, active, and athletic. Without Perkins, the Celts are at a major disadvantage on the backboards. If they can't get rebounds, or limit the Lakers to one shot each time down the court, it's gonna be a long night for the Cs.

3. Which Kobe shows up in the first quarter?

This is always the question for the Lakers. If Kobe comes out and decides he's going to get Gasol, Odom, and the others involved early, before he starts looking for his shot, then watch out Boston. This is especially that case if he gets Gasol and Bynum going in the post. The Celts have literally no one to guard Gasol from 16 feet in.

However, if Kobe comes out firing, and his teammates start standing around and watching him, then it's going to be a long night for Lakers fans.

Luckily we'll finally get some closure on that whole " does Kobe trust his teammates?" issue.

Nine hours until tip-off and I have no idea what's going to happen tonight. But, since yesterday I had a ton of emotional drama with this girl, and hurt my foot, I'm guessing the third bad thing comes tonight in the form of a Lakers championship.

JL

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