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Kobe gives Lakers the edge
June 2, 2010 - Neil Rudel
The NBA Finals start tonight, and I'm picking the Lakers.
Kobe Bryant is the biggest reason. Bryant may not be the best player in the game -- he relinquished that title to LeBron James a season or two ago -- but he is definitely the best big-game player.
The shots he made to eliminate the Phoenix Suns were ridiculous.
Plus he's got motivation on his side. Bryant and the Lakers were crushed in Game 7 at Boston in the Finals two years ago, and you can be sure he will be primed to atone this time around. He regrouped last year to win his fourth NBA title and can complete one hand's worth of rings by repeating this season.
Bryant has plenty of help, too.
Derek Fisher is one of the most clutch guards in NBA history and the Lakers' frontline with Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom is improved over two years ago. Further, Ron Artest is a wild card offensively but can capably defend Paul Pierce.
ESPN's Tim Legler is picking the Celtics in part because they're deeper. And that scares me because I think Legler, along with Jalen Rose, are the best NBA analysts in the business (even if Charles Barkley is the most entertaining).
Boston is deeper, but it's also older.
Pierce is older. Kevin Garnett is older and Ray Allen is older. Rajan Rondo (who looks like a young Johnny Moore, Altoona's first NBA player) is an emerging star and could be a difference maker, but I'm still going Lakers.