Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics: The All-Time Starting Fives

Matt Parker@@parkem24Contributor IIIFebruary 11, 2011

Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics: The All-Time Starting Fives

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 30:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers is fouled while shooting by Shaquille O'Neal #36 of the Boston Celtics in the first half at Staples Center on January 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    The Lakers and Celtics meet again tonight for the second time in less than two weeks. In their Jan. 30 match-up, Boston rode a late flurry to pull away from the champs, 109-96. They've met in the NBA Finals a dozen times including twice in the last three seasons.

    But which team would win a seven game series with each franchise's best five players at their disposal?

    Let's start with the pieces to the puzzle.

Celtics Point Guard: Dennis Johnson

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    Oct 1989:  Guard Dennis Johnson of the Boston Celtics looks to pass the ball during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Dennis Johnson gets the nod over Bob Cousy, Jo Jo White and Rajon Rondo. Johnson's size, defensive prowess and ability to hit the open shot gives him the edge.

Lakers Point Guard: Jerry West

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 03:  Former Lakers player and Genral Manager Jerry west looks on as the Boston Celtics play the Los Angeles Lakers in Game One of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 3, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User
    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    "The Logo" may be better known as a shooting guard, but handling the point guard duties on this team gives the Lakers a scoring threat who can guard Dennis Johnson. West was All-Defense the first five seasons the honor existed, including four first-team selections.

Celtics Shooting Guard: Paul Pierce

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 30:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics yells after scoring a basket against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half at Staples Center on January 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Celtics defeated the Lakers 109-96.  (
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Yes, he's a normally a small forward, but someone has to guard the next guy. His 2008 NBA Finals MVP gives him the edge over contemporary Ray Allen and Celtic great John Havlicek. 

Lakers Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 03:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to his defense during a stop in play against the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Staples Center on February 3, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User
    Harry How/Getty Images

    His assassin's mentality would be infectious on a team of winners. Bryant is the perfect late-game complement to "Mr. Clutch," Jerry West.

Celtics Small Forward: Larry Bird

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    JUN 1987:  BOSTON FORWARD LARRY BIRD TRIES TO DRIVE AROUND LOS ANGELES FORWARD JAMES WORTHY DURING THE CELTICS GAME VERSUS THE LAKERS IN THE NBA FINALS AT THE BOSTON GARDEN IN  BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel/ALLSPORT
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Larry Legend's hustle and determination lead when his jump shot doesn't. He's an easy pick for the greatest Celtic forward of all-time.

Lakers Small Forward: Magic Johnson

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    LOS ANGELES - 1987:  Magic Johnson #32 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots over Dennis Johnson #3 of the Boston Celtics during an NBA Finals game at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles, California in 1987. (Photo by: Mike Powell/Getty Images)
    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    He played all five positions in game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals, even jumping center to start the game. Magic could stay in front of the slow-footed Bird while his 6'9" frame mirrors his counterpart. Johnson could also play point forward leaving West on the wing.

Celtics Power Forward: Kevin Garnett

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    BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 17:  Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics heads for the bench during a time out in the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on January 17, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The 6'11" Kevin Garnett would anchor the paint with his defensive intensity. His all-around game would contribute to one of the best passing front lines in history.

Lakers Power Forward: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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    HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 23:  Former Los Angeles Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar attends the Destination Finals NBA Los Angeles Lakers viewing party at the Lucky Strike on April 23, 2004 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images).
    Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

    Kareem's sky hook is virtually un-blockable and he is one of the best shot-blockers of all time. His height advantage over Garnett would draw a double-team leaving Bird and Pierce open from the outside.

Celtics Center: Bill Russell

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 15:  Former NBA player Bill Russell stands on the court before Game Six of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics on June 15, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User
    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Along with Garnett, Russell would create the most prehensile back line combo ever. If they could hold the Lakers to one shot, the Celtics could find an advantage on the break off of Russell's outlet passes. 

Lakers Center: Shaquille O'Neal

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    AUBURN HILLS, MI - JUNE 15:  Shaquille O'Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots over Ben Wallace #3 of the Detroit Pistons in the first quarter of game five of the 2004 NBA Finals on June 15, 2004 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    This was the most difficult selection. The Celtics big men couldn't guard Wilt Chamberlain or Shaquille O'Neal one-on-one. Shaq gets the edge for his slightly better foul shooting.

Conclusion

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Celti
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    While each team boasts big shot makers and great passing, the Laker big men hold a physical advantage that would not be denied.

    Then again, Shaq is currently a Celtic. Put Laker Shaq in a Celtic uniform against Wilt and you have a battle for the ages.

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