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News » Lakers can't compete with Celtics' strength

Lakers can't compete with Celtics' strength

Lakers can't compete with Celtics' strength
The Los Angeles Lakers showed how easy it is to go from Sharman to Charmin in one fell swoop Thursday night.

The Sharman Era brings to mind the first championship for the franchise on the West Coast in 1972, a time when the Lakers won 69 games and Wilt Chamberlain joined Jerry West with, heaven forbid, former Boston Celtics guard Bill Sharman as their coach. Moving to general manager, Sharman capped it off with the additions of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson to ignite more championships in the 1980s.

2008 NBA Finals

Even as a youngster of 20, who probably would have been a bit overwhelmed in his first Finals game as well, Bynum's 7-foot, 285-pound presence would have altered the course, and proved the Lakers may just be a year away from being of championship fiber. As they breezed through the Western Conference with just three losses and Bryant brilliantly controlling the tempo of every game, they never trailed in a series.

It's logical to assume a lot of the problem was just the young players getting their feet wet — only Bryant, Walton and Derek Fisher have played in the Finals before. Then again, Cassell and James Posey are the only Finals survivors on the Celtics.

So that takes us to Game 2 Sunday, wondering about Pierce's knee, Perkins' ankle and the absence of Bynum. Gasol and Odom, whose intensity has the regularity of the weather, can not allow themselves to be terrorized inside by Garnett. Fisher, the oldest starter in the series, has to match the force of Rondo, the youngest starter.

Traditionally, the perception and momentum of both teams swings wildly from game-to-game in the Finals. And Lakers coach Phil Jackson, in his 11th Finals with a record-tying nine rings in his top drawer, isn't about to panic. But now we'll see if this crew can raise its level of play to help Bryant, the MVP, or he'll be going it alone.

All we know is it's a short trip down the pike from Sharman to Charmin — Thursday night was evidence of that. It could be a long series — or a very short one indeed.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: June 6, 2008


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