Factor No. 5 in the NBA Finals: Battle of the benches

We asked 10 of our experts to rate the most important factors leading into the NBA Finals. Each expert had 100 points to apportion among five key factors. The rules stated no factor could be worth more than 50 points or less than 10 points. Each expert named a wild-card factor as well.

Finals Factors: No. 1 | No. 2 | No. 3 | No. 4 | No. 5 | Others | Wild cards | Results

Factor No. 5: Battle of the benches (63 points)

Marc Stein (15 points): The Lakers have the league's best bench, and their subs can really speed up the game to Boston's detriment. Doc Rivers, meanwhile, has been gradually losing his faith in his bench in these playoffs. Like Kobe himself, the bench should be another huge difference-maker for L.A.

David Thorpe (15 points): Both teams depend on points and playmaking from their bench. The team that gets more production here earns a big edge. In particular, I'll be watching the backup point guards.

It's not so much about outplaying the opponent cumulatively in the series, but more about who gets the better of whom in four games.

Ric Bucher (13 points): The Lakers' bench was a huge factor against both San Antonio and Utah. It didn't just protect leads, it even expanded them in some games. And, in general, the subs gassed the opposition with their up-tempo, high-energy style.

Jordan Farmar, after dealing with Deron Williams and Tony Parker, should feel like a man unshackled when he faces Rajon Rondo, Sam Cassell and Eddie House.

J.A. Adande (10 points): The Lakers have more subs who are likely to impact the game than the Celtics' reserves.

That reminds me, has any TV series had more small guest-appearance actors go on to have legit Hollywood careers than "Miami Vice"? Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts, Jimmy Smits, Wesley Snipes, Lou Diamond Phillips, John Leguizamo, Ving Rhames, Charles S. Dutton, Esai Morales, Garcelle Beauvais, Helena Bonham Carter, Giancarlo Esposito …

Chris Sheridan (10 points): The Celtics have a lot more size and a lot more experience on their bench, and Doc can go a little deeper than Phil, depending on what he needs.

I think second-chance points will be a key stat in the series, and Boston can win it if Kendrick Perkins and the bench bigs (P.J. Brown, Leon Powe, Glen Davis) are active on the glass.

Next: Other Factors