Boston Celtics (53-29 SU, 48-34 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (57-25 SU, 34-46-2 ATS), 9:00 p.m. EST, Thursday, June 3, 2010, Staples Center, Los Angeles, Cal. TV: ABC
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Celtics +5.5/Lakers -5.5
The 2010 NBA Finals is a class rivalry of two teams that used to battle it out decades ago for championship after championship, as the Boston Celtics meet the Los Angeles Lakers. That rivalry picked up again in the current era when the Celtics defeated the Lakers for the 2008 NBA Championship. Coming into the season, these were two of the strong favorites to be there in the end, and both teams have played well throughout the playoffs to get to this point. No franchise has more NBA titles than the Celtics and the Lakers, as the Celtics have 17 championships and the Lakers are right behind them with 15. This will be the 12th meeting in the NBA Finals between the Celtics and Lakers.
These two teams took different paths to get to this point. The Celtics struggled for much of the regular season and entered the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. They took care of the Miami Heat in five games in the first round. Then, they pulled off a huge upset over the No. 1 seed Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round. Not many people gave the Celtics a chance in that series but they won the final three games of the series to win it in six games. In the conference finals, the Celtics jumped out to a 3-0 series lead on the Orlando Magic before losing the next two games, but they rebounded to win the series in six games.
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The Lakers were the best team in the Western Conference all season long and earned the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. But they had a tough test in the first round against the young Oklahoma City Thunder. After the Lakers narrowly won the first two games at home, the Thunder won both of their home games, including a 110-89 blowout win in Game 4, to tie the series at 2-2. But the Lakers rebounded for a blowout win of their own in Game 5 before a down-to-the-wire 95-94 dramatic victory in Game 6 to wrap up the series. The Jazz were a tough test in the second round but the Lakers swept them to advance to the conference finals, where they met the Phoenix Suns. Both teams scored over 100 points in all six games. The Lakers used the same formula they used against the Thunder, winning the first two games at home, losing the next two, winning Game 5 at home, and then wrapping it up on the road in Game 6.
Kobe Bryant has been absolutely dominant in the playoffs this year, averaging 29.4 points per game. He has scored at least 30 points in nine of his last 10 games. In the Suns series, he averaged 33.7 points, 8.3 assists, and 7.2 rebounds per game. Pau Gasol has been inconsistent in the playoffs. For the most part, he has been dominant down low. But at times, like in Game 6 against the Suns when he only scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds, he has been underwhelming. In the Jazz series, he averaged 23.5 points and 14.5 rebounds per game. In the Suns series, he averaged 19.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Guys like Ron Artest, Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher could be the X-factors in the NBA Finals. The Celtics know they’re going to have a tough time stopping both Kobe and Gasol, but if the other guys step up for the Lakers, the Celtics will be in trouble.
The Celtics have used a balanced attack throughout the playoffs with no player averaging 20 points per game. The “big four” of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo has carried the Celtics. Rondo, who is averaging 16.7 points and 10 assists per game in the playoffs, has a huge advantage on Fisher. If Rondo puts up big numbers, the Celtics will have a chance to win this series, but if he underperforms the Celtics will be in trouble. Between Pierce, Allen and Garnett, at least two of them have to have a big night for the Celtics to beat the Lakers. Then, they also need solid production from the role players like Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace, Kendrick Perkins and Tony Allen.
These teams split their season series at 1-1 with both teams winning by a point on the road. The Lakers won 90-89 in Boston and the Celtics won 87-86 in Los Angeles.
The Celtics are 9-2-1 ATS in their last 12 meetings with the Lakers and 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings in Los Angeles. The under is 4-1 in the last five games between these teams. The road team is 5-2-1 ATS in the last eight meetings between these teams and the underdog is 6-2-1 ATS in the last nine meetings.
Ryno’s Pick: I like Boston to keep it close and cover the spread.