Differences between 2008 and 2010 Finals Evident In Game 1

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The Los Angeles Lakers are out for revenge as shown in their performance in Game 1. This time around they were the bullies and the more physical team. They outrebounded the Celtics 42-31 on the boards, including 12-8 on the offensive glass. No one expected the Lakers to be more physical than the Celtics. Having Andrew Bynum around, despite not a hundred percent, has benefitted the Lakers. They now have an extra body to clog the lane and prevent Rajon Rondo from wrecking havoc in the lane. Bynum’s presence also keeps Kendrick Perkins off the glass and forces the 34-year-old Kevin Garnett to cover Pau Gasol sinlge handily. Gasol scored 23 points and grabbed 14 boards and that’s with Garnett guarding him all game. It was a different story this time around. After two years of getting pushed around in the 2008 Finals, Gasol’s game matured while Garnett’s regressed. It was really Gasol’s aggressiveness, willingness to use his 7-foot frame and motivation to shed the ‘soft’ label that really set the tone for the Lakers.

Bynum has not been getting a lot of credit for the Lakers victory. His presence gives Gasol confidence because it means that the Spaniard doesn’t have to battle in the paint alone against Garnett and Perkins. Bynum was also efficient on offense – he scored 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting and grabbed 6 rebounds.

Of course, Kobe is still Kobe. He dropped 30 on the same Celtics team that gave him such a hard time two years ago. The Celtics missed rotations, tried to cover him one-on-one and allowed him to involve his teammates. Poor Ray Allen was in foul trouble all night long and was unable to establish any offensive rhythm to his game. That was also a big difference of Game 1 – Kobe trusting his teammates. His teammates responded by drilling threes or making the extra pass to open shooters.

Somebody tell defensive coordinator Tom Thibodeau that he still works for the Celtics and not the Bulls or whatever team that has interviewed him.

Without the streaking shooting of Eddie House and energy of Leon Powe, the Celtics starters had no support off the bench. Instead these 2010 Celtics had to field Nate Robinson and Rasheed Wallace who combined for nine points. A big reason why the 2008 Celtics beat the Lakers was their bench support.

Of course the biggest and most important difference is Ron Artest. Artest got into Paul Pierce’s head early on by tangling him up just 27 seconds into the game. Pierce still scored 24 points but half were from the free throw line. Artest made sure Pierce had to work for his points. His presence allows Kobe to check Rondo, unlike two years ago where Kobe had to guard Pierce in the closing moments of games. In Artest, the Lakers have an enforcer on the defensive end.

Things are different now between the Celtics and Lakers. Will the result be different too?

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