The Lakers no longer have to play the diplomatic route anymore. In what will be the 12th Finals featuring the teams, the Lakers and Celtics matchup beginning Thursday will rekindle stories over the rivalry's history, including here at the L.A. Times Lakers blog where I plan to feature each day one of the Celtics-Lakers Finals matchups. That begins tonight where I'm highlighting the Lakers' most recent Finals loss to Boston in 2008, an outcome that remains fresh on the Lakers' minds.
The Lakers' makeup have changed since that loss. Bynum will actually play this series, with the torn cartilage in his right knee not enough to sideline him like the dislocated left knee cap did in the 2008 Finals. The team's defensive toughness improved, particularly with the off-season addition of Ron Artest worth $33 million over five years. And the team has a more consistent and aggressive post presence with Gasol and Odom, though Odom has been more prone to off nights than Gasol.
I plan to capture each series in chronological order, but since motivation from the 2008 Finals will have the most impact, I'll start there first. I detail after the jump why the Lakers fell apart two years ago in six games, an outcome that will surely serve as a teachable moment as the Lakers aim for a second consecutive championship and redeem themselves against Boston.