Sports Gal is at it again, this time breaking down the NBA finals.
The NBA Finals begin in hours, and itΓÇÖs gonna be the renewal of the NBAΓÇÖs greatest rivalry: the Los Angeles Lakers versus the Boston Celtics.
Throughout this yearΓÇÖs playoffs, the overwhelming theme was heart: Who has it and who doesnΓÇÖt.
In the East, the Atlanta Hawks couldnΓÇÖt manage to win even one game at home versus Orlando Magic in the second round. Now granted, Orlando is a tough team and their the 6ΓÇÖ11ΓÇ¥ center Dwight Howard is a beast in the middle, but Atlanta is no slouch in the talent department. What Atlanta lacked was the heart to gut out one win. Surprisingly, Boston was pretty much written off as a contender this year. Injuries and age slowed them. Plus they would have to get past Cleveland.
But with Kevin Garnett anchoring your front line, heart is never in short supply. He has repeatedly shown that he will leave everything he has on the floor, win or lose. Boston then competed with Orlando, although the word has to be used loosely given OrlandoΓÇÖs level of play in the Eastern Conference Finals. Their four games to one series victory was the exclamation point of their playoff run and firmly established Boston as real competitor for the NBA title versus whatever team came out of the West.
Back out in the wild, wild West, the Dallas Mavericks worked hard to be the #2 seed, only to lose in the first round to the #7 seeded San Antonio Spurs.
On the other hand, Oklahoma City Thunder (#8 seed) managed to press the #1 seed Los Angeles Lakers and force them to have to play hard to close out that series. It was a clear example of a team with no heart contrasted to a team with heart. Next, the Phoenix Suns ripped through the Spurs to face the Lakers who ripped through Utah Jazz. Their Western Conference Finals were entertaining but the outcome inevitable as the Lakers marched towards another Finals appearance, their 31st in franchise history.
As we anxiously await for 9 p.m. tonight, heart will figure front and center in the outcome. Both teams know what it takes to win. Both teams know that they have what it takes to win. And both teams know that there can be only one champion when the season ends.
To win it all will require more than just an execution of plays. The team that puts its bodies on the line, reaches for every steal, hustles for every rebound and plays like every game is game seven will be the team that walks away with victory. My prediction? IΓÇÖm picking the Lakers in seven.
Watch the first game of the NBA Finals Thursday, June 3 at 9 p.m. on ABC.