The Boston Celtics and L.A. Lakers square off tonight for the last time this season in the decisive game of the NBA Finals. Kobe and Co. must be feeling strong right now after blowing out the C’s in Game 6 and watching big man Kendrick Perkins go down with torn ligaments in his right knee. Knowing that he is out should allow the Lakers to control the boards and, more importantly, control the game defensively. I’m anxious to see how Rondo plays tonight after a horrific outing on Tuesday (5-15 shooting for 10 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and one really ugly air-ball). I think it all rests on his shoulders if Boston has a legitimate shot at winning tonight; if he can get his team open looks and play like he did in the Orlando series, I think they have a chance. Ray Allen needs to be, well, Ray Allen and stroke it when given an open opportunity and Paul Pierce needs to continue to force the action and take it to the rack. If they can do this, Boston might be hoisting the trophy.
Oh how it’s so easy to mention some things without noting L.A. has the ultimate weapon: Kobe Bryant. I expect another 30+ point effort from him tonight as well as top-notch defense. There’s a reason he’s an all-NBA first-team defender. Also, Pau Gasol has, by far, been the best big man in the Finals (no offense to K.G. or Glen Davis, of course), so I expect for him to continue right where he left off in Game 6 (17 pts, 13 rebs, 9 assts, 3 blks). I’m interested to see what Andrew Bynum can give the Lakers tonight. If he can give them some productive minutes, especially with Perkins out, then I definitely see the Lake Show winning their second title in as many years. He is the X-Factor for me. Also, Derek Fisher has done a remarkable job on both sides of the floor and I expect no different. The man might be average in the regular season, but when it comes playoff time, he elevates his game significantly. Also, L.A.’s bench needs to continue to play at the level they played at in Game 6. Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown have to push the tempo in this one and allow open looks for their teammates. Doing this could be a huge key to their success tonight.
In the end, I just don’t see how Los Angeles loses Game 7 at home against Boston. I know Boston is going to come out with intensity that the Lakers haven’t seen so far this season, but anytime you have Kobe Bryant, you have to like your chances. And so, with that, I say the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics tonight by 7 points and win their 16th NBA title. Kobe Bryant takes home MVP honors (as if that was ever in question) and Phil Jackson rides off into the sunset…OK, I’m not sure about the last part, but I don’t believe he’s a sure bet to be back with the purple and gold next season. I guess that’s for another time. Right now, I’m just ready for Game 7.