Lakers – Celtics Pregame

Merry X-Mas and happy holidays, sports fans…

It’s finally here.

For Lakers fans in particular, Dec. 25 has been circled on the calendar not just to signify the common present exchange, but because the Boston Celtics are in town, giving L.A. its first chance to avenge 2008′s NBA Finals loss.

Yesterday, we accumulated some audio so you could hear for yourself what several Lakers (and Ric Bucher) are thinking about the contest:

Phil Jackson Audio
Pau Gasol
Derek Fisher
Andrew Bynum
Ric Bucher

Last Year’s Finals Closer Than We’ve Been Hearing
Last night on NBATV, each game of last year’s Finals was replayed minus all the timeouts, commercials and certain insignificant possessions, meaning that I watched the entire six-game series in just over three hours. A few things that I learned – or remembered – is that the series was a lot closer than we’ve been made to think by reading articles and having conversations about Boston’s victory. L.A. was in control of game one before Paul Pierce’s emergence from the locker room after his knee ended up not being injured (he almost immediately canned two threes), came within two points down the stretch in game two, was tough in winning games three and five and suffered that huge comeback in game four. The only game dominated by Boston was game six, in which you heard Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson question L.A.’s toughness about 65 times.

Clearly, Van Gundy prefers how Boston plays to how L.A. plays, which is no surprise considering his defensive-minded Knicks and Rockets teams … And he’s certainly not wrong in suggesting that Boston’s tenacious defense was what won them the championship. But that doesn’t mean the Lakers weren’t tough, didn’t compete or had no chance to win; throw in Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza, and take away James Posey and PJ Brown (both of whom were huge in the Finals), and this game – and potential future series – is anything but decided.

Tipoff in a few … We’ll see you in the live running diary.