Lakers and Celtics in 2010 NBA Championship

Robert P. Stephens | 5/31/2010, 10:40 a.m.

The defending NBA Champions the Los Angeles Lakers will hosts the Boston Celtics for the 2010 NBA Championship Thursday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in a best of seven series with the first two in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Phoenix Suns 111-103 Saturday night to set up the 12th meeting between these two historic franchises.

Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 37 points and 6 rebounds as the defending champs proved to be road warriors in closing out the series 4-2.Ron Artest chipped in with 25 points and 4 rebounds after his game six heroics. Lamar Odom contributed 12 rebounds and Derek Fisher dropped in 11 points with his savvy veteran play.
The Suns were led by Amare Stoudemire's 27 points but the Suns big man grabbed only 4 rebounds. Steve Nash finished his night 21 points and 9 assists.

" We'll see how much we have matured," said Bryant said at his post game press conference." They challenged us extremely well in the finals of couple of years ago. Now is a chance to see how much we've grown."

During the regular season the Lakers and Celtics split their two game series both winning by a single point. The Lakers are led by Bryant who has been brilliant thus far averaging 29.4 points per game while dishing out 6 assists and grabbing 5 rebounds. Paul Gasol who had a tough outing in the series final against Phoenix averages 20 points per game while grabbing 10 rebounds per contest.

The Lakers will need Gasol to be physical against Boston's front line. Artest in his first NBA final has averaged 11.5 points in the playoffs. Another factor will be the health of Andrew Bynum. Bynum, at 7 feet, brings the defense presence the Lakers need against the Celtics big front line. Lamar Odom is averaging around 10 points per game and 10 rebounds.

The backcourt is where the Lakers are vulnerable despite the veteran starters of Bryant and Fisher who is averaging 11 points per game. The Laker bench of Jordan Farmer, Shannon Brown, and Sasha Vujacic will have to step and provide quality minutes during the finals. The Lakers lead the playoffs in rebounding with their big front line.

The Celtics are led in scoring by the versatile Paul Pierce who's averaging 19.1 points per game in the playoffs. Ray Allen averages 16.8 points per contest. Rajon Rondo the scoring point guard for the Celtics averages 16.7 points per game. Rondo averages just under 10 assist per game (9.8) The veteran big man Kevin Garnett chips in at 14.9.

The Celtic bench with veteran Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis will be counted on to play a vital role in the Celtics success. Wallace and Davis along with Tony Allen have been effective at times, as well as Nate Robinson, who was obtained in a trade from the Knicks and provides a spark form the bench when needed.

" If you look at our team over the last couple of years, three years we brought guys in the middle of the year to help us in these situations when we get into the playoffs," Paul Pierce said. at his post game press conference. " Last year we were injured this year we have Nate."