Talkin' NBA Finals

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[Hampton Stevens]


Los Angeles trounced Boston in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last night, with a smothering defense that allowed the Celtics a paltry 67 points on 33.3 percent shooting. The Lakers' bench played well, believe it or not, with Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar contributing points and hustle. The win sent the series to a deciding Game 7, only the fourth time since the league went to a 2-3-2 format in 1985 that a championship series has gone the distance. Sure, the NBA has its issues. Virtually none of them will be on display when these two tilt at the Staples Center on Thursday night. 

Figure Kobe to get his nightly 30. Assume Ray Allen stays hot and that Lamar Odom gets over his "flu-like symptoms," whatever they are. Gasol and Garnett are basically a wash, especially without Kendrick Perkins' body to back up KG's mouth. Perkins strained a knee last night and looks unlikely to play Thursday. Then again, Andrew Bynum's body is collapsing faster the Euro, so both teams will lack size. Basically, the game, the series, and the whole NBA season comes down to the match-up of Ron Artest and Paul Pierce. Artest, you may know, can be just a tad unpredictable, giving Boston the slightest of slight edges. 

With the blowout in Game 6 and homecourt advantage for Game 7, the Lakers will go into the game favored by a touchdown or more. The Celtics should have just enough to cover. Early odds on the postgame riots in downtown LA, by the way, have set the over/under on burned cars at 42 if the Lakers win, and 68.5 should Boston pull off the upset. 
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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