For the second time in 3 years and the 12th time in NBA history, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers are tangling for the NBA championship.
For Celts fans, it just doesn’t get any better than this. The rivalry spans generations and involves countless Hall of Fame players, with names like Russell and Chamberlain, Bird and Magic. And this year, Kobe and Paul.
The bicoastal contest’s last chapter was written two years ago, when the Celtics beat the Lakers in six games to win their record 17th NBA title.
This year, both the Celtics and Lakers have made remarkable postseason runs. The Lakers defeated an up-and-coming Oklahoma City Thunder team in six games in round one, swept away the Utah Jazz in four straight in round two, and escaped the Phoenix Suns in six to capture the Western Conference title.
The Eastern Conference champion Celtics beat the Miami Heat in a one-sided series that lasted only five games. They then stunned basketball fans everywhere in the second round when they bested the heavily favored Cleveland Cavaliers and superstar LeBron James in six games. They followed that unlikely victory with an equally shocking thrashing of another favored opponent, the Orlando Magic, in six games, setting up a 2008 finals rematch.
Last Thursday, the first game of the NBA finals was played in Los Angeles, where the Lakers broke out to an early lead and never looked back, beating a lethargic Celtics team 102-89. It was a different story in game two, as the Celtics turned the tables, using a NBA Finals–record 8 three pointers from Ray Allen (32 points) to even the series, taking out the Lakers 103-94. Now the contest moves to Boston, where game three will start tomorrow night at 9 p.m.
Before the finals began, BU Today asked three well-known BU basketball experts for their predictions. This is what they said:
Kenneth Elmore, dean of students: Tough for me as an Earl the Pearl, Clyde, DeBusschere, Reed, Bradley, loyal Knicks fan to truthfully answer your question. But it’s about the Celtics this year. They are rested and ready, and they do something that is rare in the NBA — they play D. Sorry, LA fans, but I’m taking Boston in six.
Patrick Chambers, men’s basketball head coach: I am picking the Celtics in six games. I have been watching all the coverage about the finals. Looks like everyone likes the Lakers because of Kobe’s focus and drive. Kobe and the Lakers have not seen defense like the Celtics have been playing.
Some of the X factors will be Rondo and the Celtics bench. Raise banner number 18 for this historic franchise!
Mike Lynch, athletic director (right): I’m going with the Celts in seven. It should be a fantastic series, as the Lakers have revenge on their minds, but Rajon Rondo (in addition to Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett) puts the Celts over the top for me. I just think they have been on such a roll, they are all in good health, and they have confidence. A problem is LA hosting four games, but I think the Celtics can steal a game in LA and I don’t believe that the Lakers can do the same in Boston.
Dan Mercurio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.