Times-Picayune sportswriters make NBA finals predictions
Peter Finney, John DeShazier, John Reid and Jimmy Smith give you their opinions.
The champ: This series will go down in history as one of the greatest ever. The
Boston Celtics, with their superior depth and just the right amount of defense to hem in and frustrate Kobe Bryant, will win Game 7 in L.A.
The MVP: Look out for the third wheel in Bostonís Big Three. Ray Allen is the best pure shooter in the league. Heíll get on a hot streak and push the Celtics to their 18th title.
John DeShazier, columnist
The champ: The Los Angeles Lakers will win in six games, and not just because Bryant is out for revenge (Boston undressed the Lakers for the title in six games in 2008). Pau Gasol wonít be intimidated by Bostonís frontcourt this time, and the most skilled big man in the league will play that way in this series. That, and the fact Boston doesnít look nearly as fresh and springy when it doesnít have much rest, means the Lakers win their 16th title.
The MVP: Bryant is the best clutch player of his generation. The guy makes tough shots look easy and, at times, can be impossible to guard. Boston shut him down two years ago, you say? Check out how much help Bryant got from his supporting cast before you go down that route, and how many times he seemed to be playing one-on-five. Heíll work over the Celtics.
John Reid, Hornets beat writer
The champ: This series will go seven games, and the Lakers will become the first champion to repeat since Shaquille OíNeal and Bryant led Los Angeles to three consecutive championships from 2000 to í02. The Lakersí height advantage and Bryant will prove to be too much for Boston. Also, losing to the Celtics in the 2008 Finals still stings for the Lakers, particularly Bryant.
The MVP: Bryant will make the same difficult shots that had Phoenix Suns Coach Alvin Gentry shaking his head in amazement during the Western Conference finals. There has been no better player during the postseason than Bryant. The Orlando Magic was helpless to stop Bryant in the Finals last season. The Celtics are one of the top defensive teams in the league and held Bryant to 41 percent shooting from the field in the Finals. The Lakersí star has not forgotten about that.
Jimmy Smith, Hornets beat writer
The champ: The series will go the distance, and the Lakers will win in seven games. Driven by the desire for payback from two years ago, Los Angeles will not be denied as Bryant gets his fifth ring and Coach Phil Jackson his 11th.
The MVP: Gasol, a dark-horse contender, will be difficult for the Celtics to defend with his array of moves in the low post.
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