The Los Angeles Lakers prevailed in seven games against the Boston Celtics to repeat as NBA Champions. It was a scrappy, feisty series where a different player stepped up each night and the lead see-sawed back and forth throughout but I found it very predictable. Before this series began, I had a few hunches about what might occur over the course of the series. My thoughts were as follows:
- Kobe Bryant will force too many bad shots and not involve his team-mates enough
- Ray Allen will shoot the lights out some games and have others where he can’t buy a bucket
- Derek Fisher will hit some clutch buckets
- Rajon Rondo’s shot and play will be wildly inconsistent
- Lamar Odom’s game will go up and down like a yo-yo
- Rasheed Wallace will shoot too many threes and not spend enough time in the post
- Ron Artest will struggle with his shot but find other ways to contribute offensively while playing solid defence on Pierce
- Paul Pierce will look unstoppable at times and timid at others
- Andrew Bynum will play a very limited role due to his knee injury
- Kendrick Perkins will have no impact on either end of the floor due to his short stature
- Pau Gasol will play efficient, effective basketball but not receive the rock enough
- The Boston bench will get riled up, act like lunatics but have a big impact in at least one game
- The Lakers bench will be pretty much non-existent, particularly on the road
- The Celtics defence will show glimpses of their 2008 dominance, though will be inconsistent on effort and fade at critical times
- The Lakers offence will look beautiful and be unstoppable when they are running the triangle, though they will resort to too many isolations which will look ugly and be ineffective
- Both teams will shoot low percentages due to an increased intensity and focus on the defensive end
- The team who controls the boards will win the series
I don’t think any of these points are outside the realm of what anyone with semi-decent basketball knowledge was also thinking, and funnily enough, they all seemed to occur at some stage of the series.
The majority of areas mentioned above were somewhat set in stone. Rondo was not going to become a consistent shooter overnight. Kobe was not going to give up the limelight and become a facilitator for the first time in his career. The Lakers bench was not suddenly going to become a force. Kendrick Perkins was not going to grow 4 inches.
The one area which could have gone either way, and probably mattered more than all the others, was rebounding.
Rebounding is all about hustle, desire and heart; it’s about wanting the ball more than anyone else on the court. When you pit the two best teams in basketball against each other, these are the key factors which will enable a team to come out on top. In every game this series, the team which won the rebound battle won the game. The reason? The team who controlled the boards had a bigger heart on the night and wanted it more than the other team, and this is the defining difference between two teams at an equal skill level. Congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers, the team who wanted it more than the rest and the 2010 NBA Champions.