Lakers vs. Celtics 2010: Five Keys To Kobe's Fifth Ring

Tony TuckerCorrespondent IJune 17, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 15:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the second period while taking on the Boston Celtics 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

Game 7 of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Magic rematch" target="_self">Boston Celtics compares to the Super Bowl – One game, winner takes all.  We haven’t had a game 7 in the Finals since 2005 where the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons faced off with the Spurs coming out victorious.

The Houston Rockets and New York Knicks met in 1994 with the Rockets winning game 7, 90 – 84 -- I’m sure will hear Jeff Van Gundy mention that game several times during the broadcast.

Many people predicted this match-up prior to the season including myself .  I had the Lakers winning their second consecutive title thanks to past accomplishments of Kobe and Phil Jackson .

That was eight months ago ; what are the five key battle points the Lakers must win in order to be victorious?

No. 5 Bynum’s Knee

Among conversations with friends and Lakers fans, I have questioned the toughness and durability of Andrew Bynum.  I will say that he has proved to me and many others just how tough he is by playing with this knee injury.

Lamar Odom has two healthy knees, and most nights isn’t as affect as Bynum.

If Bynum can give the Lakers 20 – 25 solid minutes by scoring eight – 10 points and grabbing eight – 10 rebounds, it will give extreme benefit to the Lakers.

Bynum also needs to be active on the defensive end trying to keep Rajon Rondo out of the paint by stopping easy lay-ups and put-backs.

If the knee is feeling good, I would like to see Bynum make some aggressive moves to the basket in the attempt to draw early fouls on Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis, and Rasheed Wallace.

No. 4 Drawing Fouls on Boston’s Bigs

As I just mentioned Bynum being aggressive around the offensive hoop early, same goes for Pau Gasol and the rest of the Lakers.

With Kendrick Perkins out for tonight’s game after suffering a knee injury in Game 6, this leaves the Celtics short in the defensive block position.

Kobe, Artest, and Gasol need to look early for opportunities to attack the basket and get the Celts in early foul trouble.

This would force Doc Rivers to make adjustments and either use unskilled big men off the bench or go small which would favor the Lakers.

No. 3 Bench Points – Includes Artest

Obviously bench scoring is a must for both teams but having guys like Odom, Jordan Farmar, and Shannon Brown gives the Lakers the advantage in this category.

The only problem is these three often forget to show up.  Some nights they settle for too many jump shots and don’t push the ball in fast break opportunities.

I included Artest in the bench scoring because his offensive contributions have been few and far between this season.  His primary focus has been on defense – where it should be.

The Lakers don’t need to dominate bench scoring the way they did in Game 6.  However, they must win this category, and for Lakers fans this forgetful foursome needs to remember there is no tomorrow.

No. 2 Match Defensive Intensity of Game 6

The defensive out put I saw in Game 6 was the most impressive defensive game I can recall since the ’04 Finals (Pistons team defense in that series was amazing).

They have to be on the floor for every lose ball, rebound, box-out, and most importantly force Rondo to be a jump shooter.

This is one area that I feel the Perkins injury favors Boston.  On the offensive end this will allow for a more dynamic scorer, and possibly spread the floor creating better ball movement and lead to open three’s.

No. 1 Kobe’s Shooting Percentage

The biggest key to this Game 7 is how Kobe does shooting the ball.  Even if they accomplish all the other points I have given they can still lose if Kobe shoots 35 percent from the floor.

I can almost guarantee you that Kobe will take 30 plus shots tonight and he needs to make at least 50 percent or better.

I have all ready predicted the best Game 7 Finals performance any of us have seen on my pod-cast show (60 percent shooting – 40-50 points – near triple double).

This is a game that will ultimately define Kobe’s career in the NBA and as a Laker.  I expect to see rebounding, passing, and scoring in a rare form.

The bottom line is Kobe is going to shoot himself into the record books one way or another, and for the sake of himself and Lakers fans I hope my prediction is right.

Prediction: Lakers 93 – Celtics 89  - Series MVP Kobe Bryant


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