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Just The Sports: NBA Finals

Just The Sports

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

NBA Finals

Yes, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics played each other twice during the regular season, and yes, the Celtics won both contests handily to the tune of an average victory margin of sixteen points, but one should exercise caution before using those two games to try to predict how the two teams will fare against each other. In fact, the Lakers and Celtics have almost played an entire regular season since last squaring off against each other. Including regular season and playoff contests, the Lakers have played sixty-six games without facing the Celtics and the Celtics have played seventy-three games without having to deal with the other most storied franchise in the NBA. Furthermore, the Lakers had not yet pulled off the trade heist for Pau Gasol nor had the Celtics signed a back-up point guard saboteur extraordinaire in Sam Cassell so the player rotations are not the same now as they were then. Basically, the two teams will have to re-learn how to play each other during the series.

Also, in order to predict the outcome of the series intelligently, it is important that we also know where the two teams stand since they last played. Both experienced great amounts of success in their successive games, but since they played last the Celtics have been slightly more dominant in their games. The Celtics outscored their competition by 8.5 points per 100 possessions. As impressive as that is, the Lakers were not far behind, outscoring their opponents 8.2 points per 100 possessions. There really is very little difference between how good these two teams were against their foes.

However, once we strip away from the two teams' schedules those NBA franchises that did not make the playoffs, we see that the Lakers and Celtics switch places in terms of their prowess on the court. Under those conditions, the Lakers outscored their opponents by 5.5 points per 100 possessions, but the Celtics decreased even further than that to 4.7 points per 100 possessions, meaning that against the cream of the crop, the Lakers are always a full point per 100 possessions better than the Celtics.

These numbers suggest that this will not be a blowout series by any stretch of the imagination. It will be closely contested, but the Lakers should prevail in the end thanks to the fact their level of play does not decline as much when playing against the best NBA teams, of which the Boston Celtics is one. Therefore, the Boston area should be prepared to watch another one of their professional franchises come up short in a championship format.



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