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We all know what’s on the agenda Friday morning, Manila time: Game one of the NBA finals. For the 12th time in recorded history—and the second in three seasons—the LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics will face off. [firstpara]
The last time these two teams met in 2008, the C’s were victorious.

For the Celtics Big Three—or Big Four if you want to be diplomatic and include Rajon Rondo —this series is an opportunity to chase for championship ring number two and banner number 18.

Similarly enough, the drama runs just as deep for the Lakers. They are out for back-to-back gold. And on a more personal level, this series is Kobe’s chance to prove that he and his Lakers can bag another one without the help of Shaquille O’ Neal.

If he succeeds, he’ll have five championship rings - one ring shy of His Royal Airness, Michael Jordan.

That Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson is also gunning for championship ring number 11 is a side note. But he’s got Kobe and a very clear-cut supporting cast that can get it for him. Surely he figures: “Why not?”

You have to be crazy to bet against the Lakers. This is an opinion, but it is as much a personal bias as it is an analysis, be it psychological or anything else.

There are several factors why the Lakers will prevail triumphant this season. In no particular order, here are five reasons why:

1. They have Kobe Bryant, aka The Black Mamba on their team
He is no Michael Jordan, that’s for sure; no one will ever come close to how Michael changed the game.

Now that that’s out of the way, all of ya’ll should stop drinking that “Hatorade” and recognize that Kobe Bryant is a basketball genius.

He’s got heart, he's got mad skills, and he’s extra hungry this time around. He wants to take back that title to Los Angeles. He wants redemption for how the Celtics made him feel in 2008.

It’s been a two-year long grudge and Kobe Bryant has been counting the days. So you better count on him to drop 30+ points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and a steal per game.

2. The Lakers were able to stretch their defensive muscles in the series against Phoenix
The Lakers succeeded in shutting down a very tenacious Phoenix team in a stretched six games.

Everyone has berated LA for its lack of defense, but the series against the Suns proved that the Lakers can lock down, as they suppressed one of the leagues fastest and most offensively versatile teams.

When plays are run by an ace point guard like Steve Nash and finished by a dominant big man like Amar’e Stoudemire the offense can be blinding.

It came out of necessity and adaptation that the Lakers predict the flow of the offense and maintain pace with the spitfire-like Suns.

They also succeeded in rotating quickly enough on occasion to disrupt outside jumpers and three pointers.

The Semis made the Lakers realize what it really takes to win a ball game: defense and keeping the pace of the game.

The series against the Suns taught the Lakers an invaluable lesson; a lesson they can take with them to the Finals.

Next: Andrew Bynum Ron Artest


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WORDS BY: ENRICO MIGUEL SUBIDO

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