Breaking down the NBA Finals

Published6/5/2008 12:12 AM

The Lakers and Celtics will meet for the 11th time in the NBA Finals, but this is their first matchup since 1987. That was before even P.J. Brown arrived in the NBA.

So what have we learned about these teams this season, besides that Kobe "trade me to the Bulls" Bryant is a horrendous judge of talent? Consider these NBA gems:


Going Gasol: Bryant was league MVP and is averaging 31.9 points in the playoffs, but the Lakers' playoff run was made possible by the generous donation of Pau Gasol to the lineup. He is averaging 17.7 points. Along with Lamar Odom, he gives the Lakers two efficient scoring options inside.

Pressure's on Pierce: Boston might have the means to slow down the Lakers near the hoop, with defensive player of the year Kevin Garnett and garbage basket specialist Kendrick Perkins. But Paul Pierce (19.0 ppg in playoffs) will be hard pressed to keep up with Bryant on the perimeter.

Proven winner: Lakers coach Phil Jackson will be trying to break a tie with legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach and become the first to win 10 NBA championships. Until this year, Boston's Doc Rivers had never won a playoff series.

X-factor: Lakers guard Derek Fisher is shooting 56 percent from 3-point range during the playoffs. Like Bryant, Fisher was on all three Lakers title teams from 2000-02.

Prediction: Lakers in 6

-- Mike McGraw

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