Two of the more storied franchises in pro basketball history, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, will meet in the NBA finals.
The Lakers, champions of the Western Conference, and the Celtics, champions of the Eastern Conference, get underway at 9 p.m. Thursday in Los Angeles.
The teams met two years ago in the finals, won by Boston four games to two. They have played 11 times total, and the Celtics have won nine times.
Here is a quick preview of the series:
3 things to consider
Temper, temper: Boston center Kendrick Perkins has been called for six technical fouls in the playoffs. Per NBA rules, he'll earn a one-game suspension for the next one. Perkins, who will be key to helping the Celtics manage the Lakers' size, says everyone keeps reminding him to stay calm so he will keep his cool. But coach Doc Rivers sounded resigned to losing Perkins to suspension. "It's going to happen. I hope it doesn't, but you know it's going to happen," Rivers told the Associated Press on Tuesday."‘Perk' is physical; the Lakers are saying they want to be physical now. So the refs are going to react to that."
Young buck, old pro: Boston point guard Rajon Rondo probably has been his team's most important player in the postseason. Now he draws Derek Fisher, 35, and the temptation is to say Rondo's young legs and dynamic game give him a clear edge over Fisher's veteran savvy and strength. But couldn't the same thing be said about Fisher when he faced Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams and Steve Nash? Yet Fisher navigated his way through those three Western Conference point guards. Plus, Fisher has four rings, so it's foolish to believe he can't hold his own with Rondo.
Making history: There's always history when the two most storied franchises in the league meet, and this time it's not all about yesteryear. The Celtics clinched the 2008 title with a 131-92 pummeling of the Lakers in Game 6 of the Finals. The Lakers won the championship last year, but the Celtics were left bitter because they couldn't make a proper defense of their title because of Kevin Garnett's injury. Now the Celtics get a chance to prevent the Lakers from pulling within one of their record 17 titles, the one thing they can always hold over their longtime rivals. Kobe Bryant, meanwhile, can tie Lakers great Magic Johnson with five championships.
How they got here: The Lakers beat the Thunder 4-2 in first round, the Jazz 4-0 in the semifinals and the Suns 4-2 in the finals; the Celtics beat the Heat 4-1 in the first round, the Cavaliers 4-2 in the semifinals and the Magic 4-2 in the finals.
Coaches: Lakers -- Phil Jackson (221-95 postseason record, 10-2 finals series record); Celtics -- Doc Rivers (43-36 postseason record; 1-0 finals series record).
Injuries: Lakers -- Andrew Bynum (knee) had fluids drained from the joint Monday and is limited; Celtics -- Rajon Rondo (back), Rasheed Wallace (back), Glen Davis (concussion) and Marquis Daniels (concussion) were injured during the East finals, with all but Daniels cleared to practice.
Series schedule: Game 1 -- at Lakers, 9 p.m. Thursday; Game 2 -- at Lakers, 8 p.m. Sunday; Game 3 -- at Celtics, 9 p.m. Tuesday; Game 4 -- at Celtics, 9 p.m. June 10; Game 5* -- at Celtics, 8 p.m. June 13; Game 6*—at Lakers, 9 p.m. June 15; Game 7*—at Lakers, 9 p.m. June 17. (All games televised on ABC.)
* if necessary; best-of-seven series
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