People don’t believe this, but I don’t actually start breaking down a series until I know the opponents, so while people have been talking about Lakers vs. Celtics as soon as Boston won Game 1 in Orlando, I didn’t start thinking about it until this week.
It is a fairly simply series to break down – only one of two things are going to happen – but let’s talk about the keys to the series along with my official prediction:
1- Home court matters
I always believed that the 2-3-2 format is heavily tilted toward either the home team who wins the first two games or the road team who can get a split.
People forget in the 2008 Finals after the Celtics won the first two at home, the Lakers won Game 3, but then blew an 18 point lead in Game 4 — and at that point, winning two out of three with two of those games in Boston was virtually impossible. Once you get to the Finals it is very difficult to beat a team four out of five games if you lose the first two.
This time the advantage is in the Lakers favor and they have been perfect at home this postseason. It is imperative they win the first two games at home. They need that cushion and that confidence boost.
2- Health concerns
The Celtics are banged up, the Lakers are banged up. Who is healthier could determine the outcome of the series. Rondo has killed the Lakers, but will he be fully recovered from his back ailments? The Lakers sorely missed Bynum in 2008; can he give them quality minutes on a balky knee? The Celtics core is two years older; can Kobe push his way through one more series? All questions that need to answered.
3- Lakers “B” Squad
In the mythology of Batman, the first Robin (Dick Grayson) gets tired of living in the shadow of Batman and ventures out on his own as Nightwing. He never became Batman, but he didn’t have to because he established he could handle things on his own.
Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum, and the rest of the Lakers have to step up and become Nightwing.
Like I said, this is fairly simple. The Celtics are going to try to punch the Lakers in the mouth, but these Lakers are not the Heat or Cavs (one man teams), the Magic (no serial killers) or the 2008 Lakers (soft).
I think the Lakers win the first two games in LA, steal one in Boston and then seal the deal back in LA: