Big things are expected out of the Lakers and Celtics this season. Obviously, with the addition of Ron Artest there are high expectations for the Lakers to two-peat. There’s even talk of the Lakers challenging the ’95-96 Bulls’ 72-win season. For the Celtics, as long as Garnett, Pierce and Allen are healthy, they’re always going to have a legitimate chance at a chip. They won one in ’08, but caught a bad break last year when KG went down and missed the entire playoffs. Now that KG is back and healthy again, the Celtics are expected to give Orlando a good run for the East’s top spot. Come June, we may very well see a rematch of the 2008 Finals between Boston and L.A.
You can argue that the Lakers have one of the toughest rosters in the history of the league. With Kobe Bryant, who is probably the best player in the NBA, and guys like Gasol, Artest, Bynum and Odom – the Lakers are a matchup nightmare for any team. They finished the 2008-09 campaign with a 65-17 record in a competitive Western Conference. Plus, with the exception of Artest, they have played together for so long and all know their roles. The key for this team is staying focused. They always say winning the second title is tougher because the target is now on your back and the drive might not be as strong. The Lakers are already dealing with distractions with Lamar Odom’s wedding to Khloe Kardashian and time will tell whether Artest will become a problem.
Ever since the Celtics traded for KG and Allen, they posted two consecutive 60-win seasons and won the title two seasons ago. They owned the East’s second best record with at 62-20 last season. Boston will be better than last year now that Garnett’s back at full force and the additions of Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels and Sheldon Williams. But getting back to the Finals will be harder than it was in 2008. The defending Eastern Conference champions, the Magic, are even stronger this year. Plus, the Celtics’ big three are getting older and more injury prone. But with the veteran leadership on this squad, the focus will definitely be on point all season long.
I think the Celtics will finish the season with a better record than the Lakers. I think the Lakers’ distractions will become a temporary issue at some point in the season. The Celtics have what it takes to get past Orlando and Cleveland to reach the Finals, but in the end, I believe the Lakers will have caught their stride by then and will defeat Boston in a close six or seven game series.
Who will have a better record? Who would win if they met in the Finals?
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DIMEMag.
Follow Gerald Narciso on Twitter at @Gerald_Narciso.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE