The Lakers have the best player, but Boston's depth of big-time playmakers will prevail in a game like this. I count eight Celtics -- the four current or former All-Stars in their starting lineup, plus Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, Nate Robinson’s and little-used Michael Finley, a three-point shooter with the potential to become this game's Steve Kerr -- who have it in them to make the big shot. The absence of Kendrick Perkins may create more offense for the Celtics, and they'll make up for his rebounding with a team effort led by Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. Anticipate nothing less than a tightly wound classic played to a tempo that suits Boston.
Click here for Ian Thomsen's official game seven prediction and more analysis from the CNNSI crew.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: The Boston Celtics are deserving of respect.
Consider their road to the NBA Finals. First, they took out Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat -despite some questionable tactics from Kevin Garnett. They made the Cleveland Cavaliers – the NBA’s best team in the regular season – implode, which, unfortunately, gave us an extra month of The LeBron Watch. They then coolly took out the Orlando Magic, the reigning Eastern Conference champions, in six games.
This was a most improbable run for a club that was supposedly dead, gone, and over at mid-season. Clearly, they saved their best for last, though.
The green-and-white have now pushed the defending champion and heavily favoured Lakers to the limit. The secret to Boston’s success: inspired team play on the defensive end.
Look at the NBA Finals: they’ve mostly contained Ron Artest and Lamar Odom; they’ve battled superstar Pau Gasol; and they’ve made the immortal Kobe Bryant look surprisingly mortal.
Doc Rivers’ crew is an all-time great defensive team. They can hang with any of Phil Jackson’s Chicago teams that had notable defenders like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Horace Grant/Dennis Rodman. And they hold their own against Detroit’s Bad Boys and any of Pat Riley’s squads in Los Angeles or New York.
Offensively, somebody different carries the load each night. For instance, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo have all had moments.
Of course, reserves Glen Davis and Nate Robinson – also known as Shrek and Donkey - won game four of the NBA Finals. And the defending Sprite Slam Dunk Champion went off in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals, too.
That said, the Lakers have the edge in the decisive game-seven. Here’s why:
1) Home-court matters: The purple-and-gold is a different team at home. They’re confident. They’re nasty. And they’re arrogant.
2) No Perk’: The Celtics will miss Kendrick Perkins. They lack the size to win the paint, and contain Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
3) Kobe Bryant: He’s the best player on either team. He’s the best player in the NBA. And he understands tonight is a legacy game.
Bryant – if he wants to be considered an all-time great – can’t afford a loss. After all, five championships are far better than four. And two losses to the arch rival Celtics in the NBA Finals would be devastating.
Expect Bryant to drop a Jordan-like effort. And HoopsVibe News expects the Lakers to win.
Prediction for game-seven of the 2010 NBA Finals: Lakers 95, Boston 88.
Got thoughts? What is your prediction for game-seven of the NBA Finals?