Lakers would beat Boston Celtics in NBA Finals
This is the third part of a series breaking down the Lakers' potentially troublesome Eastern Conference opponents.
Team: Boston Celtics
Lakers' record vs. Boston last season: 1-1
How Boston fared last season: Lost in five games to the Miami Heat in the Western Conference semifinals.
Why the Celtics are a threat to the Lakers: Boston is the only other team in the NBA that can match the Lakers' playoff experience. Those veteran-laden rosters may have contributed to both teams' early playoff exits in 2011, but an off-season of rest during a possibly lockout-shortened season will do wonders for both teams' aging bodies. The Celtics' Big Four with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo proved last season that they're still capable of playing at a top level, and the team is familiar with the Lakers' roster. Add in Boston's frustration over its 2010 NBA Finals loss, and it's likely the Lakers could have their hands full in another seven-game series.
Why the Lakers are a threat to the Celtics: Boston will continue to be haunted by trading away Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green. Add in Shaq's retirement, and the Celtics not only lack a center to compete with the Lakers, they lack a definitive center, period. Obviously, that's item No. 1 on Danny Ainge's agenda, but it's unlikely the Celtics can acquire the kind of post presence that can offset what the Lakers bring in Andrew Bynum.
Verdict: If the Lakers make it to the NBA Finals, it's more than likely they won't face Boston. The Celtics will have enough trouble escaping out of the Eastern Conference against Miami and Chicago. But should another classic Lakers-Celtics Finals matchup come up, the purple & gold will take it.
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Photo: The Lakers' Kobe Bryant and the Celtics' Ray Allen could benefit from rest during a lockout.
Credit: Elise Amendola / Associated Press