The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics will renew their rivalry Thursday night when they meet on the floor of the Staples Center for Game 1 of the 2010 NBA Finals. The two franchises are the most successful in the history of the NBA, and will try to add another championship to their legacy.
It will be the 12th time the two teams meet in finals. The Celtics have owned the championship series winning nine of the 12 over the past half-century. Most NBA critics credit the rivalry with single handedly saving the NBA from financial struggles in the 1980’s.
Two players lighting up the scoreboard in those days were Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. The showtime Lakers would skip across the country to play the Celtics three times in the finals during the 80’s, winning twice. Johnson was a part of the teams that beat the Celtics for the first time in the Finals.
The Lakers had previously lost six times in eight years against the Celtics. Celitc greats like Bill Russell and Bob Cousy headlined for the team in the 1960’s. They frustrated Laker greats like Elgin Baylor and “the logo” Jerry West. Three times during those eight years, the finals went to seven games, the Lakers losing every one.
In 2008 the rivalry was renewed for the first time since the Lakers won in 1987. The Celtics won home-court advantage by having the better record during the regular season. They beat the Lakers in six games behind impressive performances by their “big three” Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen.
Last year, the Lakers returned to the finals for the second consecutive year, and beat Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic in six games. The Lakers benefited from a healthy roster in 2010, and have added Ron Artest to this year’s Western Conference champion team. The Lakers would like to avenge the Game 6 blowout suffered at the hands of the Celtics. Boston fans peppered the LA team bus with rocks after the lopsided 39-point clincher.
Both teams are suffering from injury going into Game 1 of this year’s finals. Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant have both had fluid drained from their knee prior to this series. Rajon Rondo and Rasheed Wallace are both day to day for the Celtics with back injuries.
NBA Sportsbooks have set the Lakers as the favorites to win Game 1 of the finals by 5 1/2 points over the Celtics. The over/under set for the total points score by both teams is 192.