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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Lakers-Celtics Preview - 25-Dec-08

The Lakers will win this game against the Boston Celtics this Christmas. That's my prediction. And I'm pretty confident of this that I'd be willing to bet the life of this blog to any Celtics bloggers out there if the Lakers lose this game.

Basketball analysts either refuses or can't make their own predictions due to many variables. The Celtics is the hottest team right now, coming to the game trying to get their 20th winning streak to tie them with the third-best in NBA history. Meanwhile, the Lakers, at least on paper, made the better roster upgrade with the return of 7-footer Andrew Bynum, who was injured during last year's playoffs, while the Celtics lost James Posey and veterans P.J. Brown and Sam Cassell and haven't made yet any significant additions to their lineup.

Many believed that the Lakers' recent slide--their 2-2 performance, in their 4 game road trip--is a telling sign that they are not yet ready for a showdown with the Celtics. I don't buy that! Phil Jackson's insistence of keeping both his 7-footers in the starting lineup, even though it's not their best performing unit, is obviously in preparation for this matchup (or similar ones like with the Cleveland Cavaliers). Jackson is not the winningest coach is NBA for nothing.

Judging from their games last season's Finals and both teams' recent development, I'm convinced that the Lakers now have the right pieces to win over the Celtics, not just in this game but their eventual match up in this season's Finals (assuming the Celtics would win over the Cavaliers).

Taking out Game 6 of the Finals, in which the Lakers players and coaching staff obviously gave up, the series was evenly matched up with both teams winning their home games except for Game 4. That game showed that the Lakers could dominate the Celtics using their superior offensive game and their swarming defense. Although the Celtics won the game 97-91, the Lakers was dominant in the first half of that game. They scored 35 points and limited the Celtics to 14 points in the first quarter. Lamar Odom, who seemed to be unstoppable during that quarter, made all his field goal attempts and scored 13 points with 5 rebounds. The teams dominance continued in the second quarter when they increased their lead to 24 points on a 3-point shot of Vujacic midway through the quarter. Unfortunately, they stopped playing their game after that.

The Celtics bounced back in the second half scoring 31 points in the third quarter while limiting the Lakers to 15 points. Odom disappeared during that quarter scoring only 2 points on free throws. He added only 6 points, 2 in each quarter, to his first quarter numbers to score 19 points with 10 rebounds in the game. Bryant, who was forced to miss a lot of jump shots to make up for his team's missing offensive game in the second half, scored only 17 points but had 10 assists and 4 steals. Gasol also had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Fisher and Radmanovic added 13 and 10 points for the starters, respectively.

The Celtics superiority in defense showed up in that game. But this superiority, I believe, is now negated with the addition of Andrew Bynum and the healthy Trevor Ariza in the Lakers lineup. Plus, their best Kobe stopper in James Posey now is playing for the Hornets.

Let's see how it would go. Please share your thoughts.

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Christopher Blake said...

Great analysis...Go Lakers!

The Lakers Analyst said...

I knew it! Thank you Lakers for saving my site.

Phil Jackson’s gamble of insisting on his tall starting lineup, even though it’s not their most efficient unit and usually run over by quick and small teams like Miami and Sacramento, paid off. He’s really been preparing the team for games like this. Next stop would be the Cleveland Cavaliers.