NBA Finals Preview From WhatIfSports.com image

NBA Finals Preview

BtB looks at the results of 10,000 simulations of the NBA Finals
By Paul Bessire, WhatIfSports.com
May 31st, 2008

It's the series that we have all been waiting for and if the WhatIfSports.com super computer, which is on a roll after correctly picking the NCAA tournament Final Four, Championship and Champion, is correct, the Boston Celtics will take home their 17th NBA Championship. We have simulated the NBA Finals between the Celtics and Lakers 10,000 times in order to determine the likelihood of either team winning it all. In the 11th Finals matchup of these two teams, the recently rebuilt Celtics come out on top by winning the series 64% of the time. The most common occurrence is a six game series, where Boston wins it all in its return home after three games in LA.

What follows is an example NBA Finals based on the most common result of those simulations. It includes boxscores, play-by-play and stats for each game in the series. Click on the links after each summary to see the entire breakdown of the game.

NBA Finals Game 1
Los Angeles 118 @ Boston 115 (in OT) - What homecourt advantage? In a playoffs dominated by home teams, particularly with LA and Boston, the Lakers steal an overtime classic game behind 38 points from Kobe Bryant and some clutch play by Lamar Odom. It may not have been the designed play, but with four seconds left, down three points and seeing Kobe blanketed by multiple Celtics, the inbounds pass went to Odom who took four dribbles to try and free himself and then hoisted a contested three-point jumper from the right wing. It went in. Odom then scored five of the first seven points of the overtime to put the Lakers on top. Before the play by Odom and the overtime drama, this game had been reminiscent of the Game Seven between Cleveland and Boston. In this case, it was Paul Pierce dueling with Kobe. Pierce finished with 34 points in the loss. As a team, the Celtics managed just 2-of-13 shooting from behind the arc.

Boxscore with play-by-play >>

NBA Finals Game 2
Los Angeles 103 @ Boston 104 - Knowing the difference between winning and losing this game would have a huge impact on the series, Boston gets one back in another close game. This time it is Paul Pierce hitting a three in the waning seconds that puts the Celtics ahead. With Boston again focused on Kobe, Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol both get opportunities to reply, but neither can channel the magic of Odom from Game One. Pierce, who had been so good in the first game, only manages 12 points, yet three when it counts the most. Kevin Garnett shines for the Celtics with 28 points and 15 rebounds. For a good rebounding team, the Lakers do not appear to have an answer for Garnett and Kendrick Perkins on the boards. The series heads to LA tied at one game apiece.

Boxscore with play-by-play >>

NBA Finals Game 3
Boston 105 @ Los Angeles 95 - In what will stand as the biggest winning margin in the Finals (tied with the next game), Boston answers the Lakers' move by taking the first game in Los Angeles. Again, rebounding, especially on the offensive glass, plays a big role in the outcome. The Celtics out-rebound the Lakers 51-36, including 20 offensive boards to net ten more field goal attempts than LA. Ray Allen rounds out the performances of the new "big three" by leading Boston in scoring with 22 points. Six others score 8 or more points and eleven total Celtics grabbed rebounds, further illustrating the Celtics advantage with depth and "hustle." Things may have looked bleak for Celtics fans after Game One; but, it's all good now.

Boxscore with play-by-play >>

NBA Finals Game 4
Boston 89 @ Los Angeles 99 - The Lakers' defense thrives in Game Four, holding Boston's starting backcourt to 12-for-34 shooting from the field and 3-for-12 shooting from three. Kobe Bryant, who is obviously a big part of that perimeter defense, dominates on the other end as well with 27 points on 50% shooting from the field. Bryant is actually the only player to top 20 points in what is the lowest scoring game of the Finals. So, the series is knotted up again.

Boxscore with play-by-play >>

NBA Finals Game 5
Boston 110 @ Los Angeles 101 - Staying in Los Angeles, Boston gets another crucial road win. Despite its significance, this game is oddly unexciting. The Celtics take the lead on a Leon Powe "and one" with 2:17 remaining in the first quarter and they never look back. Collectively, the teams shoot an impressive 30-of-34 from the free-throw line, including 9-for-9 by the Lakers, who make the most of their opportunities, yet continue to fail to get hometown love from the refs. Sasha Vujacic's performance is of note, as "the Machine" drops in 20 points in 21 minutes. Good or bad, he's the only player on the Lakers outside of Kobe Bryant who is never reluctant to shoot. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen lead the way for Boston with 26 points each. The series heads back to Boston with the Celtics one game away from another banner.

Boxscore with play-by-play >>

NBA Finals Game 6
Los Angeles 103 @ Boston 107 - And it's over. Kevin Garnett goes off with 28 points and 11 rebounds to carry the Celtics to a Game 6 win and the NBA Championship. Yes the game is close after the Lakers' fourth quarter comeback; but, again, the Celtics never trail after the first quarter. Garnett earns NBA Finals MVP honors, consistently proving to be too much for Lamar Odom and the Lakers' frontcourt on both ends of the floor. KG ends the series averaging 20.3 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.7 blocks and 0.8 steals in 39.5 minutes per game. Boston's other "big three," Paul Pierce and Ray Allen go for 19.8, 6.3, 4.5, 0.5, 1.5 and 37.33 and 19.0, 4.7, 3.0, 0.2, 0.2 and 37.7 respectively.

Boxscore with play-by-play >>

We hope that you enjoy our Beyond the Boxscore feature. As with all of our free features, games and content we are willing to listen to feedback and improve this page and content to make it as interesting and user-friendly as possible. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, please contact Customer Support. Thanks!

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