I was impressed when they were up 4 to 2 very early on, and then later watched some NHL Stanley Cup finals instead; the Lakers just got outplayed.
With the next three contests of the best-of-seven series set for TD Garden, the Celtics could earn their record 18th NBA title without ever returning to Hollywood. However, Doc Rivers’ team has been uncharacteristically pedestrian as the host this season, compiling a 24-17 record during the regular season and a more solid 7-2 mark in the postseason. The Lakers, meanwhile, have won four times on the road this postseason.
The NBA Finals has been tied at a game apiece 32 different times and the winner of Game 3 has gone on to take 28 of those series.
The 2010 Finals marks the Lakers’ 31st trip to the championship series and Boston’s 21st appearance with 12 of those overlapping in clashes between the NBA’s two most storied franchises.
Their finals history dates all the way back to the 1958-59 season when the Lakers still called Minneapolis home. Boston and the game’s ultimate winner, Bill Russell, dominated the early years of the rivalry. The Red Auerbach-era Celtics took the Lakers all seven times they met in the finals, although the Jerry West, Elgin Baylor fueled LA clubs did manage to take Boston to seven games on three different occasions.
The rivalry lay dormant for 15 years until Larry Bird and Magic Johnson “saved” the NBA by bringing their own storied college rivalry to the pros. Bird avenged his loss at Indiana State to Magic’s Michigan State Spartans in the 1979 NCAA Finals when the Celtics got past the Lakers in seven games to win the 1983-84 NBA title. Johnson and his Lakers responded the next season as LA finally beat Boston in the finals for the first time. Magic also won the rubber match two years later before the rivalry went cold again, this time for 20 years as the Celtics struggled mightily in the post-Bird era.