I want the Lakers in the Finals. Preferably I'd like the Suns to force a game 7 and for the Lakers to win in 7 overtimes in game 7, but if they win tonight I won't be upset.
I want the Lakers because they are the best competition in the world and because they got a title last year when we were unable to stop them from it. I want them for the pure history and nostalgia aspect of it. But there's another reason too. A reason with much less bravado than the rest. I'm not crazy about how we match up with the Suns.
Don't get me wrong, I think we're the better team and we'd find a way to beat them too. Its just that I'm concerned with the some of the dynamics.
Consider the Celtics biggest strength is our defense. Consider what the Suns offense does to the best defenses and you begin to understand why I'm concerned. Nash is an offensive savant and makes his whole team better. The Celtics typically have trouble with athletic bigs (see Atlanta) and they don't come much more athletic than Stoudamire. The Celtics sometimes had trouble getting out to the 3 point shooters on the Magic. You think the Suns are going to have any hesitation pulling the trigger from downtown? Do you think Perkins or KG are going to have a lot of fun chasing Channing Fry out to the top of the key?
Besides, the Lakers are the better team (I think Nash has even said as much) and the Suns are still giving them all they can handle. Bottom line, the Suns are a heck of an opponent.
Now this is the part where I have to remind myself to "be careful what you wish for." The Lakers are clearly no slouch. They have improved from two years ago and they aren't going to be pushed around like they were in 2008. If only because they have stocked up on crazy (Artest) and beef (Bynum).
Still, after saying all of this, I can't help but be confident going into the Finals regardless of who we face. I had never counted this team out but I wasn't exactly sure of things headed into the playoffs. They've made an even stronger believer out of me (if that was possible). This team has the heart, the drive, and the experience it takes to be a Champion once again.
Whatever offense you throw at them, you can bet that Doc and the presumably soon to be departing Tom Thibodeau will have a plan to slow it down. There will be games where the stars will go off like Wade, LeBron, and Howard have done this postseason. But there will also be games when they will look off their game and frustrated. Be it Kobe and Gasol or Nash and Stoudamire, the Celtics defense will make them look occasionally very un-star-like.
So at the end of the day, I like our chances against anyone. I just would rather see the Lakers.