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Can the Lakers out-muscle Boston?

June 17, 2010

The Boston Celtics will meet the Los Angeles Lakers tonight in Game 7 of the NBA Finals to determine who will be crowned 2009-10 NBA Champion. The Lakers have the best player, while the Celtics arguably have four of the next five. Will Kobe Bryant’s will single-handedly deliver LA back-to-back championships? Or will the cohesiveness of Boston’s Big Four bring back another title to Beantown? Let’s see.

            The Celtics were blown-out by the Lakers in Game 6 in LA, 89-67, but the previous game’s outcome has rarely been an indicator of the next game’s outcome in this series. After being blown-out in Game 1 the Celtics won by 11 in Game 2. After winning Game’s 4 and 5 the Celtics were destroyed in Game 6. The way this series has gone, Boston should win tonight by about 15.

            Kobe Bryant won’t let that happen, though. The game is in his house, and he won’t go down without a fight. Look for Kobe to score at least 30 points – whether that’s good or bad depends on how efficient he is with his shot selection. If he replicates his 38 points on 27 shots from Game 5 the Lakers have a good chance of winning. But if he shoots 34.5 percent like he did in Game 3 the Lakers probably will lose. You can’t count on Ron Artest and Lamar Odom to make up for Kobe’s shortcomings in a Game 7.

            The loss of Kendrick Perkins doesn’t exactly help the Celtics, but out of all the Celtics’ starters he’s the one they could afford to lose the most. They’ll miss him on the defensive end, but I expect Doc Rivers to start Rasheed Wallace in Perkins’ place, and this should stretch the Lakers’ defense and make Andrew Bynum play more out of the paint and on the perimeter, which could open up rebounding lanes for the other Celtics – something that has been key in this series. The winner of the rebounding margin has won each game.

            The Lakers need big games from Ron Artest and Lamar Odom to help seal the championship, while the Celtics need big games from guys like Glen Davis, Tony Allen and Nate Robinson. While the Celtics Big Four need to be on the court as much as possible, the Celts’ bench need to match the Lakers’ bench production in this game to make it competitive.

            The Lakers need big games from Artest and Odom. The Lakers won both games that Artest has scored in double figures, while Odom has contributed a double-digit output of either points or rebounds in two Laker victories.

            I have a feeling that the use of Rasheed Wallace outside will really help the Celtics on the offensive end to get more offensive rebounds and easy put-backs – something that will help the Celtics capture title No. 18. Let’s say Celtics 91 Lakers 87.

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