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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. good series - May 31, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    Foul dwimmerlaik I think PJ could have easily won 9 championships in a row if Michael didn’t leave for 2 years. That would have been 8 straight titles and the only reason the bulls got broken up was because the General Manger Jerry Kraus convinced the owner that he was the reason why the bulls won all the titles and that he could rebuild a team just as easily. Michael pleaded that he was making a huge mistake and that the cubs have been trying to rebuild for a 100 years. Michael didn’t want to retire but the team forced a breakup so Michael quit the game. He only came out of retirement for the wizzards because he wanted to bring in talent because he wanted to be a part owner. Michael was heavy and out of shape by then. Jerry Kraus got fired after the owner realized that michael was the reason and only reason they won along with the coaching staff. The bulls won all those championships with below avg centers. The bulls could have won 9 in a row but egos got in the way and it wasn’t the ego of the greatest coach of all time or the greatest player. Pretty sad. The bulls were never the most talented but played a defense the league will never see again.

  2. Anonymous - May 31, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    Likewise, I do like to discuss with people about this stuff. One thing I think we all can (or should agree on) is this will turn out to be a great series. Like Foul Dwimmerlaik said in his comment (#38) anyone who thinks it will be an easy series should really have their head checked out.

  3. Matt - May 31, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    Last one was me, forgot to put my name in

  4. markus - May 31, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    “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.”
    are you kidding me??? the overall season play is between both conferances and we finished second behind the cavs overall… so if we were in the east conferance we would be 2nd, behind the cavs, and that would push the celtics back to 5th… you obviously don’t know the NBA well at all. also, record wise the top 4 west finished higher than the east this year before the playoffs…
    this article talks about the celtics having swagger and know what it’s like to win a ship? lakers just did last year… sure you didn’t have KG but he’s not what he was in 2008… and we didn’t have bynum in ’08. don’t even try to say the celtics have this hands down… since 2008 the last 4 games the lakers/celtics have played, the only one the celtics won was when kobe was injured.
    it’s gonna be a good series, I wanna say the lakers will win but I’m actually gonna watch it and not make idiotic, biased, predictions like I’ve read from a vast majority of these celtics fans

  5. Cole - May 31, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    Couldn’t agree more

  6. Cole - May 31, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    Oh lol no problem

  7. Rafel Lafratz - May 31, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    Huge Spurs fan here. I hate the Lakers. Kobe putting his arms out like he can fly. What a rapist fraud.
    I hope the Celts dismantle these turds in four. Celts epitomize “team”. Kobe will be sulking just like 2008.

  8. Cole - May 31, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    Relax. Whoever says this series goes in a sweep is new to this sport. Both these teams are beyond talented, this series has to go 6 or 7 games for sure.

  9. Anonymous - May 31, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    Can you read? Not saying it goes in a sweep. I HOPE it goes in a sweep because I abhor the fakers led by a felonist.

  10. good series to lal vs bost - May 31, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    lalvsbos, I watch the lakers constantly. They do not play defense. Nobody who plays outstanding defense allows over 100 points. I am a huge Phil and tex winters fan. I watched the whole career of Michael jordon and Kobe. Google comments about who is better by both Tex winters and Phil. Phil won’t give an answer but says they are pretty much even but Michaels advantage was huge hands and tex says it straight up Kobe doesn’t play defense where Michael dominated. It is so much harder to play when you play 100% both sides of the ball. (Also Michael scored 90% of his points in the 4th quarter. Just dominated where Kobe can light it up right from the start and has a better long range shot but lacks his ability in the final quarter. Michael was also more dominating from inside.) Rember these guys are currently coaching Kobe. If they were retired they would tell all. Before the lakers ever had the bulls coach’s the jazz killed the lakers but both teams scored well into the 100′s. Both teams were far superior to the bulls when it came to offense but the bulls would hold the jazz to 80 points or less and beat them. Remember the high flying suns in the west. When they met the bulls they couldn’t score. That is what a great defense does. The lakers play better defense compared to the teams of the west but they have a terrible defense compared to teams like the bulls and the pistons to name a few of the past. No comparison. Can kobe play great defense, sure but he choses to save his energy for offense. Its not a mystery. Its well documented.

  11. Robert - May 31, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    Your record is so good the probability that you will be wrong is much higher so the Lakers will probably win. The Lakers have played incredibly well in the playoffs, but have encountered extreme difficulty at times. The match-up against Boston should be very good and whoever wins, wins. I just hope both teams bring their best games to the duel and may the best team win.

  12. IndieVote - May 31, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    Felonist?? LaFratz, you’re killing me! You’re not much of a writist or English speakist, are you? How long have you been a basketball fanist? Not to mention a delusionist. Keep up the excellent work. You make a great case for all the Laker hatists out there.

  13. IndieVote - May 31, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    I have a question for the folks out there saying the Celtics defense is superior to the Lakers defense. The Lakers were the #2 team defense in the regular season and the Celtics were #29. In the playoffs the Lakers are the #3 team defense to date, and the Celtics are #11 (out of 16). Can someone who believes the Celtics play better defense than the Lakers please explain the huge disparity in team rankings? I’m just asking.

  14. good series - May 31, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    I agree with folks here about Kobe. He is the most under rated elite nba player of all time. I love Michael Jordan and think he is the greatest player of all time. I think Kobe runs a close second and could possibly surpass Michael when all said and done. Kobe goes to arena’s where they chant “Kobe sucks”. They never disrespected Michael like that. Refs seems to ignore Kobe as if he rubs them the wrong way. Kobe only has one MVP, are you kidding me. He should have at least 3. I don’t think Kobe could accomplish what Michael did in the same amount of time but he could stay in the game much longer and be recognized as the greatest or equal to Michael. The only other factor is Lebron. He may not have the finese of Kobe or Michael but he has the strength to trample Michael and Kobe’s stats. Maybe not championships but Lebron is killing it for his age. Michael had tons of triple doubles which is one thing Kobe lacks but Lebron seems well on his way to destroy. How people can say Kobe isn’t that good is beyond me.

  15. Anonymous - May 31, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    Not jealous of Laker success. Spurs have done pretty well a s a mid market team. Lead by and upstanding likaeable guy.
    I do not like Kobe Bryants at all. He is selfish and arrogant. The Malone incident was started by his wife’s flirty question. Bryant hypocritically threw him under the bus.
    I very much respect the Celtics as a “team”. The Lakers just are not likeable at all.
    This is my favorite
    This is a fav of mine:
    Kobe’s 61-point game represented the best and worst of basketball to me. His shotmaking was transcendent: a steady onslaught of jumpers, spin moves and fallaways made in his typically icy style, as efficient an outburst as you’ll ever see. On the other hand, his teammates stood around and watched him like movie extras. In 37 minutes, Kobe took 31 shots and another 20 free throws. He finished with three assists and no boards. He may as well have been playing by himself on one of those Pop-A-Shot machines.
    A friend of mine, a lifelong Knicks season ticket-holder since the Bradley era, e-mailed me afterward: “That was the worst night maybe of my life in the Garden. How horrible it must be to play with Kobe. He was signaling constantly to his teammates to get him the ball. THREE ASSISTS AND NO REBOUNDS. Talk about a team guy.” Another New York buddy was so distraught that Bernard’s 60-point Garden record fell so ignominiously—with Kobe’s padding his stats against a reprehensibly bad defense as a shocking number of fans chanted “MVP!”—that he e-mailed me the next day: “I literally didn’t sleep last night.” A third friend was there and swore that Kobe eyeballed Trevor Ariza after Trev made the mistake of swishing a 24-footer in the fourth. And yet, the national reaction seemed to be, “Wow! Kobe scores 61! He’s unbelievable!” Spike Lee even called it “genius.” (Move over, Einstein and Mozart.)
    When LeBron arrived in New York two days later and notched his amazing 52/9/11, he didn’t break Kobe’s new record but definitely cheapened it. LeBron’s 52 came in the flow of the offense. When the Knicks doubled him, he found the open man. When they singled him, he scored. He dominated every facet of the game. It was a complete performance, basketball at its finest, everything we ever wanted from King James. And it happened 48 hours after Kobe’s big game … in the same building. Crazy.
    I’ve been comparing those two games ever since. Never has basketball seemed more simple to me: I would rather watch a 52/9/11 than a 61/0/3. I would. It’s really that simple. It’s a matter of preference. So don’t call me a Kobe hater, call me a basketball lover. -Bill Simmons

  16. Chris - May 31, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    Hey Cole,
    did you read Bill Simmons Book of Basketball? I did. Guess who Larry Bird aka Basketball Jesus aka any man in Boston would gladly give him a blowjob. Yes that Larry Bird. Old number 33. In that book he is quoted as saying that Kobe Bryant is his favorite basketball player to watch these days. So put that in your Beantown pipe and suck it…BEEYATCH!!!!

  17. IndieVote - May 31, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    Yea for LeBron. How many rings does he have? But you make a point. He plays losing basketball beautifully.
    Kobe haters have all kinds of rationales for their dislike, and you all have a right to dislike someone for whatever reason you want. But the bottom line is, you all dislike him for his success. You pick the night Kobe drops 61 on the Knicks as an example of what? His…….lack of team play? What, he should have been dropping the ball off to his teammates because……..they wanted it? To prove he could? To appease those who choose to judge his motives rather than enjoy a master at work? How many boards and assists did Jordan have on his best scoring nights? So, using your logic, Babe Ruth should have been bunting guys over when he was having a great game instead of swinging for the fence?
    Just admit you don’t like him and leave it at that. Don’t try and justify it with some weak critique of his game. That’s a subjective observation. It’s your opinion. And you ARE a Kobe hater. If you were merely a “basketball lover” you wouldn’t have a problem admitting the obvious fact that Kobe is the best player of his generation. You just don’t like him. And by the way, if there’s a guy out there who can beat an NBA team “by himself”, then I want to see it.

  18. good series - May 31, 2010 at 4:14 PM

    No Michael Jordan avg 6.7 rpg and 5.5 apg through out his whole career. He didn’t have the high scoring games like kobe but was consistant. Remember he avg 43 points a game with 7 rebounds and 6 assists against the boston celtics who won the championship that year and swept the bulls. Michael did that against the brutal defense of the celtics and put up 63 points in game two against a championship team for an all time record. His rookie year he avg 28.5 points 6.7 rebounds, 6 assists and 2.5 steals per game as a rookie. Are you kidding me. Michael was all around the greatest. Kobe is probably the greatest offense of player even though Michael was by far the best in the 4th quarter. He just dominated the big games. So as far as Michael only scoring on big nights and not having the all around game. Never, he was a dominate defender and all around player. Michael had so many triple doubles. Kobe has like 2 in 5 years. I believe that is why Lebron gets the Mvp’s over Kobe is because Lebron has a lot of triple doubles. Right now though Kobe is the most dominate player in the world. Lebron still has a way to go.

  19. Drew - May 31, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    I think what makes a huge difference in the MJ-Kobe comparisons is the fact that Jordan never had a dominant centre or post player on any of his championship teams. That’s quite an incredible accomplishment. Kobe is plagued by the fact that he has only won when he’s had an elite centre/PF alongside of him. Let’s not forget Shaq won the MVP every time during their three-peat. When Shaq left, the Lakers were a middle-of-the-road playoff team until Gasol arrived. What we saw was selfish play from Kobe, bickering, trade demands, etc. When Gasol arrived, things changed. I think that fact alone separates Jordan from Kobe.
    I think if you’re talking about all-around brilliance, MJ is the greatest of all-time. I’m not a Kobe hater in saying that. Jordan was just the most feared player and would take over the game at both ends. Kobe is the greatest shot maker and scorer of his generation, but I don’t think he’s on Jordan’s level no matter how many more rings he gets.

  20. Cole - May 31, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    Pretty accurate, except the Rasheed Wallace thing shouldnt take away 45% chances, thats like taking away a Ray Allen. That should be more of like a 20% or something.

  21. basketball4eva - May 31, 2010 at 4:35 PM

    Oh my bad I meant to include Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace in that 45%, not just Rasheed Wallace.

  22. good series - May 31, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    No Michael Jordan avg 6.7 rpg and 5.5 apg through out his whole career. He didn’t have the high scoring games like kobe but was consistant. Remember he avg 43 points a game with 7 rebounds and 6 assists against the boston celtics who won the championship that year and swept the bulls. Michael did that against the brutal defense of the celtics and put up 63 points in game two against a championship team for an all time record. His rookie year he avg 28.5 points 6.7 rebounds, 6 assists and 2.5 steals per game as a rookie. Are you kidding me. Michael was all around the greatest. Kobe is probably the greatest offense of player even though Michael was by far the best in the 4th quarter. He just dominated the big games. So as far as Michael only scoring on big nights and not having the all around game. Never, he was a dominate defender and all around player. Michael had so many triple doubles. Kobe has like 2 in 5 years. I believe that is why Lebron gets the Mvp’s over Kobe is because Lebron has a lot of triple doubles. Right now though Kobe is the most dominate player in the world. Lebron still has a way to go.

  23. good series - May 31, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    Dam thing reposted my last comment. Anyway Ian Kobe isn’t the greatest he could be when all said and done but I think Drew said it best. Michael did it with below avg centers. Also Michael Jordan had 10 triple doubles in 11 games and 15 total that year. Kobe has 14 for his career. Michael scored 90% of his points in the 4th quarter. Not even kobe is as dominate in the 4th quarter even though Kobe is a better 3 point shooter. Michael didn’t even attempt 3 pointers until his 4th championship when they asked him why he didn’t try. He said it wasn’t his game and then hit 6 in a row the following night to prove he could. Michael also missed two years in his prime where he would have played another 30 playoff games and won 2 more championships. Then he retired when the owner broke up the team while he was still in his prime. Kobe may break his records in more years but isn’t even close to the all around player. Kobe is a better jump shooter I will give him that. Right now with Lebron being 25 he could shatter all the records. He is much more dominate at 25 than Kobe was. Lebron just needs championships if he wants to be crowned. I think if Michael could forsee the future and knew Kobe and Lebron would have come up so quickly after him he would have made a lot better decisions and put his records to the point of untouchable. I am sure he thought it was going to take a long long time for anyone to come close. Not just a decade or two.

  24. CELTICS FAN #1 - May 31, 2010 at 6:57 PM

    the celtics will win because rondo,and the big three. And lakers suck the celtics would have one last year but kg wasn’t playing and suckee lakers fans the only reason your voting for the lakers is because suckee kobe.the celtics has more heart and mind of a champion and a championship GO CELTICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  25. CELTICS ALL DAY - May 31, 2010 at 7:14 PM

    The celtics are going to win because Rondo,pierce,garret,and,ray.The lakers suck, all they have is kobe and kobe suck too .The celtics would had one last year but kg was hurt.To all the lakers fan the celtics beat them in 08′what do you think the lakers will bet them now all of a sudden the laker fans ya stupid the CELTICS is going to win 2010 finals.GO CELTICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

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