A rivalry for the ages, the Lakers and the Celtics have more history between each other than some of us do with our own family. In the NBA Finals at that.
What started in the late 50’s, has now spanned over 50 years to become one of the most recognized and watched rivalries in all of sports. Overall, the Boston Celtics have dominated the rivalry, winning 9 championships in the 11 times they’ve met the Lakers in the Finals.
The only time the Los Angeles Lakers have found success against the Boston Celtics was in the eighties when Magic Johnson was running the show. The rivalry might have taken a short hiatus during the nineties, but with both of these teams returning to the upper echelons of basketball in the last few years, the rivalry has been brought back into the forefront of sports.
In 2008 the Lakers, after steam-rolling through the playoffs, looked to continue that momentum as they made their way to Boston. The Celtics had been an early favorite to win the title during the regular season but found the competition in the post season tougher than anticipated. The Celtics went seven games in their playoff match-ups against the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as a six game series against the Detroit Pistons.
Despite the Lakers being favorites, the Celtics used their experience, and the coming of age of point guard Rajon Rondo, to their advantage. While the doubters expected their age to leave them tired against the younger Lakers team, Boston used their experience to lead them to their 17th NBA Championship.
Needless to say, the Lakers will have bit of a chip on their shoulder when these teams take the court on Thursday night. Add that to the fact that they are the defending champs and it’s an equation for a team, and more specifically their leader, Kobe Bryant, who does not want to lose.
In two meetings this season, the Lakers and the Celtics each walked away from the other team’s home court with a one point victory. Not much to give either team an advantage this season, mentally or otherwise.
The one thing that gives the Celtics an edge, is that they are the underdog.
The Celtics were supposed to be old. Yet, here they are in the NBA Finals again, despite having to go through LeBron James and the Cavs, and Dwight Howard and the Magic to get here.
Just like in 2008, they are supposed to be tired. An assumption that only only plays to the Celtics favor, and if the Lakers fall into that assumption, than it will only take a little luck of the Irish to land Boston their 18th World Championship.
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