Celtics watch: Beat L.A.

It only took making the NBA Finals, but finally it seems the Celtics are the talk of this town.

The Finals begin tonight with the Celtics taking on the Lakers, a team with whom (as you may have heard by now) there's been some historic bad blood - Bird-Magic, Russell-Wilt, McHale-Rambis etc. That stuff makes good copy, but ultimately we prefer to focus on the here and now. Robert Parish isn't walking through that door, after all.

First off, let's give both teams some credit. For the Celtics, we were skeptical when they assembled the Big Three about their ability to hold up over the course of the season. And for a while there, it looked as though that skepticism may have been justified - Ray Allen looked like a shell of his former self during the series against Cleveland, and Kevin Garnett at times looked almost afraid to attack the basket. But they've put their struggles behind them, and anyone who watched the Pistons series would have some trouble defending the suggestion that they don't belong in the Finals. They're playing their best basketball right now, and fans have to be excited for what they're seeing.

Of course, then there's the cold shower that is the Los Angeles Lakers. We don't want to rain on the parade too much They've been merciless during the postseason - only losing three games so far. Their offense is virtually unstoppable, and they play defense almost as well as anyone on top of that. Also to say Phil Jackson v. Doc Rivers looks like a one-sided mismatch would be a brutal understatement. Any analysis, be it statistical or scouting, would suggest that this will be a romp. And if analysis is what you're looking for, read Hollinger or Basketball Prospectus or Henry Abbott or Brett Edwards or Tom Ziller. If you want a more offbeat take on things, read Free Darko or Basketbawful. We're just going to content ourselves with the role of "shameless homer" here, and say that the home-court advantage can overcome all of the Lakers' considerable talents, and call it for the Celtics in Seven.

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