The NBA Finals is truly a marquee matchup. Everybody got what they wanted, the Lakers vs. the Celtics. Yes, it is the west coast against the east coast, arguably the two most storied franchises in NBA history. Talk about tradition, wow, they certainly have had it.
The Celtics have won 16 championships while the Lakers have captured the gold trophy 14 times. Boston is in the finals for the first time since 1987.
When you talk about this matchup, the Lakers have tremendous offensive firepower. Los Angeles is so explosive and Kobe Bryant is a multi-talented offensive machine. Just when you think an opponent slows him down, he flat-out goes on a roll. You know he would love to get another ring, baby!
Phil Jackson's club really took on a different look when Pau Gasol came over in a deal from Memphis. His arrival has provided a big power player on the interior, a force on the glass. Lamar Odom is so versatile and capable of big things.
This series has added drama as Jackson goes for his 10th NBA championship as a head coach. He could break the current tie with the late, great Celtics legend Red Auerbach. For Jackson, this is his first trip to the finals since losing to Detroit in 2003-04.
The Celtics have done a phenomenal job turning things around this season. Remember, this is a franchise that went from 24 wins a year ago to a 66-16 mark this season. Coach Doc Rivers did a terrific job of convincing the big three -- Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen -- that to win a championship, you'd better defend. They have done a great job on the defensive end, wrapping up the Eastern Conference finals by winning in Detroit, a difficult place to play.
My friends, that was a solid Piston team that Boston handled. The Celtics were pushed to seven games in each of their first two rounds. They heard about the inability to win on the road, and there were questions after dropping game two at home.
After losing its first six road playoff games, the Celtics won two out of three games in the Palace during the conference finals. Rivers' team had something to prove and it did.
Pierce has been super in late-game situations. Garnett is a workhorse inside and on the glass. Allen, after struggling earlier in the postseason, has found his touch again. The big three have to put a lot of points on the board for Boston to capture the title. Rivers cannot afford to see one of those guys have a bad night.
When it is all said and done, the Lakers' offensive ability will be the key. Jackson has been in that winner's circle so many times and he has experienced that championship series pressure before. Kobe has been in that situation enough times to lead his teammates as well.
I see Los Angeles getting another ring.
It was a year ago when Bryant was screaming about wanting to be out of LA. He was not happy with what Mitch Kupchak was doing.
What a difference a year makes!
Nothing like winning to change the entire climate. Tinseltown will be rocking as Boston comes up number two, just like the Patriots!
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.