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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. rydaphotoguy - Jun 2, 2010 at 3:00 AM

    Wow I can’t believe I just read all of those comments. I am a degenerate and looking for action….so far from what I read, for the most part it seems the people going for Celtics are more intelligent than the people betting on Lakers but I don’t know what that means just noticing a trend in comments. BOL to everyone.

  2. poman - Jun 2, 2010 at 5:14 PM

    Lots of compelling and ridiculous points here though most have jumped on the “Green Geritol Wagon” it seems in believing the Celtics will win. These two teams match up pretty evenly from players 1 to 8 in my opinion. However I’m going with the defending Champs in 7. Younger legs, better coach, revenge factor from 08 will spur Gasol, KB, Odom on and Artest will make life miserable for Pierce. Oh and can we please stop with what has become the most ridiculous overused and unwarranted criticism of LA as “soft” or “can’t play well against physical teams.” Load of complete crap. You don’t become World Champions by playing “soft.” Just like the Lakers in the 80’s were supposedly “soft” they won back to back titles against the two most physical teams of that era- The Pistons and the Celtics. Just because Garnett makes silly “toughguy” faces and talks trash doesn’t make him “physical” Ron Artest alone is more physical than the entire Celtic starting lineup.

  3. good series - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:58 PM

    Lakers defense isn’t very good at all. They are and offensive force and incredible at that. The 90 Bulls, the 88 Pistons and 08 celtics played defense. The Lakers are just spectacular at offense. Obviously the Lakers team with shaq may have been the best team ever at offense but this Lakers team is running a close second.

  4. luffy - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:27 PM

    Celtics Defense? WTF? are you kidding me? The Celtics Defense is overrated! The teams in the East just suck in shooting the ball, everybody choked. All these teams that Boston beat are a bunch of kids which is so dependent on their star players… Let me break it down for you…
    Thunder – Team Play + good coach Scott Brooks
    Jazz – Team Play + good coach Jerry Sloan
    Suns – Team Play + good coach Alvin gentry
    Lakers – Team play + best coach Phil Jackson
    other teams in the West…
    Spurs – Team Play + 2nd best coach Greg Popovich
    Portland – Team Play + good coach Nate Mcmillan
    Nuggets – Somewhat team play + too bad George Karl wasn’t present
    Dallas – Team play but choked + good coach Rick Carlisle
    Ok, now let’s go to the teams that the Celtics beat…
    Miami – Wade + young coach who I don’t know?
    Cavs – Lebron + the great mike brown, wow!
    Magic – Howard + the great van gundy, wanna shout w/him til you loose your voice?
    Now tell me the difference between the East and West, between the teams that Lakers and Celtics beat, your thoughts please…
    Who’d stop Rondo? Kobe could, Shannon Brown could, The Lakers could stop him not individually but as a team like what they did to the BEST PGs in the NBA other than Derek Rose, we’re talking about Westbrook, D.Williams and Nash here people. Now on the contrary, who’d stop Kobe? Where’s Posey?
    Lakers in 5 or 6…

  5. Matt - Jun 3, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    All you Laker fans can keep keep complaining about how the East isn’t as good as the West, really, there is just more of a gap between teams 1-8 in the East than there was in the West. Saying we beat up on crap teams like NJ is a sorry argument since you guys had Minnesota to beat up on (only 3 games better than NJ). Teams 9-15 from the East and West are pretty similar. So this just means that the better teams in the East were just better than the West. You have to play with th schedule you’re given, so stop with that argument.
    I also think you guys are putting too much faith in Gasol and Artest. KG is going to be much tougher to defend and score on than anyone else he had to in these playoffs, Gasol is a bit of a bitch, and people over look that. Artest isn’t the same guy he use to be, he is a good player, but not the defender he once was, which is another thing that people are over looking, Pierce will beat him. However I didn’t realize the later of my argument until I was watching a local sports talk show yesterday. Now, I’m pretty sure that all of you Laker fans will strongly disagree with me and start calling me retarted, but I will stand by what I said.
    Also I’m a bit curious, whats the reason you hate Boston (the team and or the fans), I actually want to know. I hate LA because they’re smug and arrogant. Also the fans piss me off, a lot of the fans (not all) are not even fans, they are stars who go to the game just to be seen. Also a fun fact, its like that with NY, I guess Boston teams are just the teams most famous people hate. Thats why I love Boston teams too, we’re real.

  6. Matt - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    You LA fans are already counting your 16th championship. Well don’t make the same mistake you guys made in ’69. The situation is almost identical, the similarities are uncanny. We all know what happened then.

  7. good series - Jun 4, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    Rondo was embarassing last night. It had nothing to do with Kobe just Rondo trying ridiculous lay ups in a final. No scoring what so ever by the celtics. The only one playing half way decent was Ray Allen and he had too many fouls and limited minutes. Lakers in 5 if this is the celtics team that shows up. Bynum and Gasol dominated. KG looked awful. I hope the Celtics dig deep and play with everything they got because otherwise its not even worth watching.

  8. Empire Inland - Jun 4, 2010 at 12:37 PM

    Wow.. What a thumping. This is what happens when the officiating is too tight on both sides… and when the Lake show plays defense. Total LOCK DOWN.
    Hey Pierce, How u like Artest in your draws all night? lol.
    Hey Rondo, How u liking Kobe’s D ?
    Hey Ray Allen, How u like trying to shoot over Gasol? Gasol out on the perimeter blocking Ray Allen’s 3’s.. Classic.

  9. Anonymous - Jun 4, 2010 at 10:26 PM

    Looks like you’ll be wrong in 3 of the last 23 years. Ha, ha!

  10. good series - Jun 5, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    Lakers:Pau was dominant and Bynum was great. Fisher solid. Artest’s defense was undeniable and Lamar hasn’t even gotten started. Kobe is Kobe and is going to do what he wants and that is expected. The rest of the players were solid coupled with the greatest coach of all time. Recipe for success.
    Celtics:Rondo was embarassing taking ridiculous layups and shooting into a defense right in his face, it had nothing to do with Kobe but Rondo as his worst enemy.(Very sad after Rondo was playing out of his mind the whole playoffs). KG look old, tired and rusty. (Pau’s comments were dead on and I don’t think he meant any disrespect). Pierce was shut down and even missed open 3’s that he drained almost automatic in 08. Ray Allen played good but missed half the game because of fouls. Perkins is Perkins and overhyped player with no offensive skills at all. Rasheed needs a lot more playing time. He may be a nut but has proven himself in playoffs and finals. The bench needs to pick it up bigtime and play almost flawless. Posey was the celtics greatest asset and when the got rid of him I said it was their biggest mistake. Dr. is a great coach but only so much a coach can do. I thought it was going to be a good series. Tonight is the celtics game 7 and if they lose it will be a blowout. Celtics dig down deep or else sit home and watch the Stanley cup. That’s a series.

  11. BillyT - Jun 5, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    Still zero chance? Western Conference still “weak?” Gasol soft? Celtics will win the battle in the paint?
    Maybe you ought to admit your predictions have @ zero chance of being right?

  12. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 6, 2010 at 9:00 AM

    I expect LA to take Game 2, and even with that I ain’t celebrating until at least they get their 3rd win in Boston court. But damn it, I do like what I’m seeing right now.

  13. good series - Jun 6, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    To Foul Dwimmerlaik: The only way I see the Celtics having a chance if they lose game 2 is if they knock around the Lakers to the point of exhaustion and lose by 2 points with the lakers total points under 90. They have to beat them for 48 minutes physically. Like I said before Celtics need to play like every game from here on out is game 7. I am rooting for the Celtics but wouldn’t bet a dime on them.

  14. Matt - Jun 6, 2010 at 11:29 PM

    Wow, the Lakers new team mates, those guys in the black and white, still couldn’t stop the Celtics and Peirce and KG aren’t even in full throttle, so when we start firing on all cylinders this series will be over. All Gasol does is flop and its annoying, and most of his points came because of that, so if the refs called a good game he’s a non factor offensively. And Artest shown us what he truly is, a mediocre over the hill player.

  15. Rajon Over Kobe - Jun 6, 2010 at 11:38 PM

    Hey Laker fans….I love how the Celts attempted 26 to your 41 free throw attempts and we still were victorious! You have now witnessed the Jordan-esque Rajon Rondo…not Kobe Bryant. Tony Allen smothered Kobe tonight and in crunchtime Kobe ignored all his teammates and did his famous “It’s all about me” routine. Ron Artest came back to earth and so did your tttuuurrribblle (as Charles Barkley would say it) bench….Odom? where was he? Well, know that we are a team Laker fans…and get ready to see green for three games
    First loss this postseason in the Staples’ Center…Uh oh!!!! See green in your nightmares!

  16. luffy - Jun 6, 2010 at 11:55 PM

    Nice game, now it’s a series…
    Wicked game from Ray Allen and Rondo…
    I still root for the Lakers in 5 games, 3 straight wins in beatown, sweet revenge…

  17. pete leary - Jun 7, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    Re: Comments from Eric using the F word every second.i wouldn’t bet on this series but one thing I will bet on: that Eric has a low IQ!

  18. Good series - Jun 7, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    Now that’s the celtics that needed to show up. Great game and put a little fear in the Lakers. Now they need to take it home and hit them hard in game 3 and the series will be up for grabs. Remember this will be Kobe’s legacy. If he loses this championship with this calibor of a team he will have a tough time being talked about in the same sentence with Michael Jordan. Nobody knows this more than Kobe. He will be coming with all he has. Celtics need to hit him hard right off the bat and send the Lakers home with a bitter taste in their mouth. Series could be one for the records.

  19. Tim - Jun 7, 2010 at 7:08 PM

    Lakers fans. Basketball cannot be predicted. Everyday one has his good days and bad days. Don’ t try to be all smart about it, because anything can happen. You cant just assume in Game 5 rondo fails to attack the paint area. Maybe he will do just that. I’m just trying to say predicting games is for people that love their team so much they lose their judgment.

  20. luffy - Jun 7, 2010 at 10:54 PM

    You are the only one thinking of that Kobe-Jordan thing dude…
    Win or lose, Kobe has his own legacy already but another title wouldn’t be bad either. Point is, Kobe and MJ are both great players by their own rights and accomplishments, no need for comparison…
    Agreed, Kobe will bring all he has in game 3 and 4 and 5 and 6, Kobe brings it everytime if you haven’t noticed, it’s just that players also experience bad games once in a while. and game 2 wasn’t his best…
    Lakers in 5…

  21. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 7, 2010 at 11:54 PM

    I will take my lumps after game 2 and leave the trash talking to you guys. By the end of the series you loud-mouth Laker/Kobe haters better show up like real men as we hoist Sweet Sixteen.

  22. good series - Jun 8, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    To Luffy: No I am just commenting on people who always make comparisons to Jordan. The truth is it isn’t fair to compare Kobe to Jordan after all Jordan has accomplished and beats Kobe in every single catagory. Stats don’t lie. As for Kobe he is incredible, by far the greatest player that gets little respect outside of LA. I mean they chant Kobe sucks in every arena outside of LA. He deserves respect and I agree with you about him being a great player. In my eyes the greatest player in the world right now and will be for a few more years and the #2 on the greatest quard list of all time. Kobe has the best power forward in the league and Bynum is becoming dominant. There is no excuses if the Lakers don’t win this series. They have all the talent and the greatest coach of all time. Don’t forget they also had Tex Winters from the bulls that taught the triangle with Phil. If it wasn’t for Tex Phil Jackson would have just been a good coach. As for Kobe being allowed a bad game, of course he is. The test comes tomorrow. Will it only be one game? The celtics won with only two guys being hot on offense. KG got destroyed by Pau and artest shut down Pierce but still the celtics won on LA court. I am excited about tomorrow.

  23. Jesse - Jun 8, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    How are your predicitons going?

  24. Jesse - Jun 8, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    How are your predictions going?

  25. good series - Jun 8, 2010 at 11:47 PM

    Wow the Celtics cannot win with Kobe going 10 for 30. The Lakers left the door wide open. Kobe isn’t going to go 10 for 30 again. Great job KG and welcome to the finals. Ray Allen basically won game 2 and lost game 3. Pathetic for a shooter of his calibor. Celtics have to win these low scoring games. I say the Lakers in 6.

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