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NBA finals, Celtics Lakers: 2010 ain't 2008

May 30, 2010, 9:59 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for Rondo_Fisher.jpgThe players are mostly the same. The franchises, the mascots, the colors, the pageantry, the history, the bad blood. All that’s still there. But this finals matchup is uniquely different from 2008 for five reasons.

1. The Lakers are better: When last these two teams met in the finals, the Lakers were less than a half season since the Pau Gasol acquisition. They were still figuring one another out, still learning each other’s tendencies. This team was not whole, as it is now. Furthermore, Andrew Bynum was out after knee surgery. Granted, Bynum’s still struggling with a faulty knee. But even in limited minutes, Bynum can be a huge factor, helping LA to dominate the glass and get easy points down low, two things the Lakers will need in this series. Ron Artest gives LA a wing defender they can sick on anyone and expect him to deliver. And he does.

2. The Celtics are better: You thought that 2008 club was tough? Try this one, that knows it’s a championship caliber squad. The Celtics simply have that much more swagger to their step this year because they know they’ve already gotten that ring, reached that summit, climbed that hill. They are not lacking confidence in that regard. They’re also more familiar with one another, and have learned different ways to beat teams. This is also a deeper club, with Tony Allen, Nate Robinson, and Glen Davis all providing significant minutes off the bench. This team is fiercer than it was 2008, as incredible as that sounds.

3. Rajon Rondo has come of age, Derek Fisher has become aged: Rondo has been phenomenal throughout the playoffs, arguably the best player in the league. Rondos’ shown a driving ability that can help the Celtics to not only attack the basket of LA but can open up opportunities for his teammates down low. It doesn’t take much for the Celtics to go into attack mode. Rajon Rondo is the high pitched squeal that lest the Celtics off. Derek Fisher’s having himself another playoffs full of huge shots. He’ll be called upon even more in this series to try and equalize Rondo’s contribution a bit.

4. Boston is better on the road and worse at home: TD Northbank Garden was a house of horrors for the Lakers in 2008, as they wilted in Boston time and time again. The Celtics are no longer unbeatable in Boston, losing games to Cleveland and Boston in the playoffs and it has become somewhat of an issue. The bad news is that they’re significantly better on the road. The Celtics have developed a knack for winning one of the first two games, stealing home court, and putting the fear of God into their opponent from the get go. LA has to hold serve if they want to put the C’s on ice.

5. The legacies are different: The 2008 Celtics were on a mission  to destroy everything. It was their first real chance at a championship, and when they realized that, they pushed their play to another level. But now the Celtics expect to in. They can point to that ring as the ultimate in validation. The Lakers on the other hand have just realized how good they can be at full strength, and are still struggling to get everyone at the same level.

Both teams are storied, both teams are champions, both teams are the cream of the NBA crop. We’ll have to see how this series shapes their legacy in the years to come.

176 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 30, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    It will be definitely be a dogfight. Payback time for the Lakers. The key is for LA to neutralize Rondo’s puppet-master plays. Nash has given the Lakers the opportunity to deal with explosive point guards. Of course, Rondo is arguably faster. I can never underestimate the Celtics and it would be foolish for anyone to take them lightly. In the same token, Lakers are the defending champs. There is a legitimate reason why they are. Go Lakers!

  2. Tim Pilgram - May 30, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    couldn’t agree more Matt.. nice article!!!
    After three series, a whack of games, tons of highlights and more, the NBA Finals have arrived!!!! Personally, I think what happened two years ago can be written off. Here’s proof with a prediction (and a gallery of the Lakers vs Celtics Cheerleaders): http://www.lionsdenu.com/2010-nba-finals-los-angeles-lakers-vs-boston-celtics-preview-prediction-gallery-of-lakersceltics-dancers/
    It’s not that I don’t believe in Rondo and the big three (who are honestly ‘the final four’ now) but lets be honest… Kobe, Gasol, Artest, Bynum, Odom, Fisher.. I don’t think I’ll be along when I say congrats Los Angeles …

  3. Bob White - May 30, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    I actually think the Celtics are going to win this one. If you look at all other previous predictions, NBA analysts thought the beaten-up and aged C’s would have a tough time beating Miami, and fall to Cleveland in 5 or 6. Look now, they have demolished their competition, especially with the star, Rondo, he has exponentially gotten better to make up for the slight aging in the Big 3. If you look at matchups, Derek Fisher is going to get pummeled chasing Ray Allen around countless screens, Paul Pierce will get his jumpshot, unless he gets fouled by Artest, sending him to the free throw line. Rondo will cause problems for Kobe, Garnett is known for keeping either Odom or Gasol in check, the only offensive power the Lakers will really have in this series is either through Kobe or Gasol (even Gasol is going to get frustrated by Garnett’s defense). Celtics in 6 or 7.

  4. Tijani - May 30, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    Solid article but I disagree that Boston is deeper. They are better offensively with Rondo’s emergence but their bench is weaker – no Posey, House, Powe, or PJ Brown. Posey and House hit huge 3’s repeatedly and Power and PJ were solid defenders and rebounders.

  5. Dan - May 30, 2010 at 2:17 PM

    Celtics could win this in four, but will probably take six.

  6. Jim Bob - May 30, 2010 at 2:43 PM

    Lakers will choke… They would have lost to the Cavs or even the Magic. They have zero chance. Completely overrated.. They play in the weak Western Conference..

  7. Craig W. - May 30, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    Love those Celtic fans — really a class act.
    Nobody got this far by accident. If you want to throw trash out there because of your own insecurities, be my guest, but it doesn’t make your team any better.
    The game is between the players, on the court, no by fans trash talking.

  8. Israel - May 30, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    Celtics. If there’s one thing the NBA has proved lately, it’s that superstars doesn’t beat a great team. Proof you ask? Lakers vs. Magic last year. Better TEAM won. Celtics vs Lakers in 2008. Better team won. San Antonio vs Cavs in 07..better team won. The Miami Wades vs Dallas Nowitzkis…OK that was 1v1. And the ultimate proof…Detroit Pistons over the 4 all star Lakers in 2005. Better TEAM won.
    The Celtics are the ultimate passing, balling team. Rondo is going to scortch whoever guards him because the Lakers don’t have a starter that can keep up, unless they try Kobe on Rondo, and that’s going to hurt the Lakers in their whole rotation. Fisher won’t be able to keep up with him (Are you kidding me???). The Celtics are actually a BETTER passing team then 2008, and defensive team then they were in 2008, and despite the Lakers being better then 2008, at Guard they’re actually worse because Fisher is about to go on Social Security!
    I’m sorry Lakers fans. Kobe was enough in the end vs Phoenix, but vs. the Celtics they’re gonna be crying and Kobe is going to be screaming for help again.

  9. jr - May 30, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    I think you meant to write “Cleveland and ORLANDO”
    You wrote: “The Celtics are no longer unbeatable in Boston, losing games to Cleveland and Boston in the playoffs”

  10. Israel - May 30, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    Just for the record for everyone here, the last time I was wrong about calling the NBA Champions was 1994 Houston vs. Knicks (I picked the Knicks) and that was one of the closest series ever. Before that, the last time I was wrong was picking the Pistons over the Lakers in 1988. So out of the last 22 NBA Champions, I’ve only made 2 wrong predictions. Not a bad track record don’t you think? :-)

  11. mikesporty - May 30, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    Unbelievable! You celtic fans who think Boston will beat the Los Angeles Lakers again are out of your damn mind! The defending champs will use the triangle to destroy the celtics. Crying? Please! The celtics beat the Lakers earlier this year only because Kobe did not play. Farmar and Brown will contain Rondont while Fish continues to bury the threes. Lakers in six!

  12. mikesporty - May 30, 2010 at 3:41 PM

    Unbelievable! You celtic fans who think Boston will beat the Los Angeles Lakers again are out of your damn mind! The defending champs will use the triangle to destroy the celtics. Crying? Please! The celtics beat the Lakers earlier this year only because Kobe did not play. Farmar and Brown will contain Rondont while Fish continues to bury the threes. Lakers in six!

  13. Sal - May 30, 2010 at 4:02 PM

    Wow, let me guess, most of you are from the East Coast. I love how all of you suddenly think the old Wizard, I mean Celtics, suddenly are the second living of the Celtics of the 80’s when they had real 7 footers and someone named Larry Bird. Do you guys think the old legs of the big 3 starters are going to keep up with Bynum(even with a wounded knee), Gasol ( who has something to prove, only to the Celtics), the amazing Kobe Bryant, who even Lebron James, the most gifted specimen since Shaq came into the league, calls the Black Mamba the best player in the NBA, bar none. I saw how the Celtics got to the finals, One: Lebron James Quit by the end of the 3rd, quarter of the second game in that series. Two: Superman was too busy letting clark kent drive the wheel the first 3 games.The dude, didn’t wake up until the 4th game, thus making things interesting and competitive. I know this, The Lakers got Artest for a reason and so far the Champions are on course to repeat.

  14. Israel - May 30, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    Mikesporty:
    A) I’m a Knicks fan which just goes to prove that you probably assume anyone that predicts Celtics is a Celtics fan. You simply can’t handle that ball fans that don’t have a bias might think your Lakers are inferior. Don’t take it personally dude.
    B) Celtics are simply better than your Lakers. I don’t have any bias here. I made a logical deduction, and as I said, I’ve correctly predicted 20 out of the last 22 NBA champions.
    The 2 times I’ve been wrong were extremely close series.
    By the way, one other point. The fact that you think Fisher can keep up with Rondo shows how much you know about ball. Fisher can’t keep up with even the slowest of NBA point guards, let alone Rondo who is probably in the top 3 guards in the league as well as the fastest next to Tony Parker and Steve Nash. What makes you think Fisher or Farmer can contain Rondo? Wishful thinking.

  15. Scott - May 30, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    One thing the Lakers have in their very culture. They can and will
    rise to any occaision even if they have to pull a straight razor or a sledge hammer out of their shorts, come game time they will “Handle their business” Remember that game 5 with Olando, the C’s were almost like a rough NFL game where they carry players out on stretchers. Believe me the C’s bell can be wrung, they can get their wagon fixed and have some wheels put on it. I learned growing up in Chicago that the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Again another expression comes to mind.”In order to get some they also have to bring some” What do you think the Lakers are? Punks? I say let’s get it on.

  16. Cole - May 30, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    You Boston fans make me laugh, especially Israel. Dude we dont need your bull talk about being right 20 of 22 championships, We are not 10 dude. The only reason Celtics are thsi far is of these key reasons.
    1)Miami only has Dwayne Wade, who else?
    2)Lebron and his failure to awaken during clutch situations.
    3)Dwight Howards fouls and their point guards poor play-making
    Now, the Lakers have a key piece, Ron Artest, who Paul Pierce can’t handle, as shown in his career. When Paul was defended by Kobe, he got off 23 ppg. Against Ron in his CAREER, 13 ppg. Back to how bad he played in the Cavs series. Fisher defended Deron Willians successfully, who is the best PG in the NBA. Got off with Nash and Westbrooke. Sorry Israel, your about to go 20 out of 23 lol. Lakers have too much pride and a lot of revenge ready. Fisher will continue to sink the 3 ball, as will Artest, who has recently rised. Farmer and Brown can destroy Rondo easy. Simple as this: No Rondo, no Celtic champs. Thats ALL Lakers need to do. What do Celts need? Shut down Kobe, Gasol, Odom, Bynum, Artest, ugh do I need to go on?? Lakers in 5-6. Celtics have had easy match-ups, partly cause the East SUCKS. 5th seed under 50 wins, Celtics have the same record as 8th seeded Thunder. KG is playin bad right now. Pierce wont be able to play Artest, and Kobe will be Kobe, MVP of the Post season. Allen will only hit shots if Kobe leaves him open, and if Kobe switched to Rondo, Lakers in 5. Artest on Rondo, Lakers will sweep. Don’t give us your BS of having 20 of 22 right calls. Your about to be “20 of 23″

  17. Drew - May 30, 2010 at 5:29 PM

    That’s quite a feat to predict champions with that degree of accuracy. You can’t really be faulted for the Knicks (’94) and Pistons (’88) picks.
    I agree with you, I think the Celtics are the better team, but more importantly, they play a style that is disruptive to the Lakers who – absent Kobe and Artest – don’t particularly thrive against bruising, physical play.
    Winderman is leaning on the argument that the Celtics are running on fumes, aging and tired. People said that about them going into the playoffs. They said the Heat could beat them or they would be pushed to seven games. They said the Cavs would roll over them. They said the Magic were too hot and too talented. Now, with five days of solid rest and preparation, calls of running on fumes are still being thrown around. Haven’t you learned your lesson about Boston from three series of superb ball?
    Rondo is a nightmare matchup for LA and will be the difference in this series. Celtics in 6.

  18. KId - May 30, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    Lakers vs Celtics
    Game 1-Lakers
    Game 2-Lakers
    Game 3-Celtics
    Game 4-Lakers
    Game 5-Celtics
    Game 6-Lakers
    Lakers in 6. They will shut down Rondo and do to him what they did to Nash. But one thing is different. Rondo can’t hit jumpers as good as Nash. He will be help to 7- assists, and pressured to 15+ FG attempts.

  19. Tim - May 30, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    From the Laker fan comments I have read here. It looks as though you are reiterating what many have said about the Celtics all season without actually watching any of thier playoff games. Seeing is believing.

  20. pimplayahusla - May 30, 2010 at 6:05 PM

    lakers are the best in the league! kobe cant be stop!!

  21. Dave G. - May 30, 2010 at 6:21 PM

    LOL…Laker fans and their wet dreams!
    The ONLY reason you guys are the reigning champs is cause KG didn’t play last year.
    The ONLY reason you are here now is simple..you play in the West!
    If the Lakers were in the East, they would probably be seeded 6th or 7th, behind Cavs,Magic,Celts,Hawks,Miami…probably seeded ahead of the Bucks. That’s what happens when you play in a girls league.
    Fisher than anyone you end up throwing at him.
    Nate,Glen Davis,T.Allen, Sheed> Farmar,Brown and the rest
    #4 seed Celts knocked out #1 regular season Cavs, #2 regular season Magic, and soon will knock out #3 regular season Lakers.
    If #’s 1 and 2 couldn’t stand a chance against the Celts, what makes you think #3 will?
    # 18 coming very soon (6 games?)
    Go Celts!

  22. Dave G. - May 30, 2010 at 6:26 PM

    Fisher

  23. Anonymous - May 30, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    Fisher than anyone you end up throwing at him.
    Nate,Glen Davis,T.Allen, Sheed> Farmar,Brown and the rest
    Let’s try it one more time!

  24. Dave G. - May 30, 2010 at 6:30 PM

    Fisher than anyone you end up throwing at him.
    Nate,Glen Davis,T.Allen, Sheed> Farmar,Brown and the rest
    Let’s try it one more time!

  25. Davfe G. - May 30, 2010 at 6:34 PM

    Apparently the great sign is thye culprit so:
    Fisher LESS THAN Rondo
    Softy Gasol LESS THAN Perk
    Artest LESS THAN Ray Ray (equal in scoring, edge to Ray Ray on defense)
    Kobe=Pierce
    KG GREATER THAN anyone you end up throwing at him.
    Nate,Glen Davis,T.Allen, Sheed GREATER THAN Farmar,Brown and the rest
    Let’s try it one more time!

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