Finals Factors: Henry Abbott's ballot
We asked 10 of our experts to rate the most important factors leading into the NBA Finals.
Each expert had 100 points to apportion among five key factors. The rules stated no factor could be worth more than 50 points or less than 10 points. Each expert named a wild-card factor as well.
Click through the pages to see how the voting went.
Click below to see the ballots of our 10 writers:
• Henry Abbott, TrueHoop
Here's Henry Abbott's ballot:
1. Celtics' defense (50 points): If this part of their game is a constant, then home-court advantage alone could decide things.
2. Kobe (20 points): With Tony Allen slowed and possibly out due to injury, I'm quite certain the Celtics won't be using the "beat him up all series long" approach to Kobe-stopping.
That means they likely will do what they did successfully in the regular season: protect the rim like crazy, but leave Allen out there all alone to guard Kobe. In the regular season, they turned Bryant into a long-distance shooter, and he happened to be cold. For the Lakers' sake, he can't be cold again.
If the Lakers are carving it up, however, I don't see how Boston can win.
3. Kevin Garnett (10 points): Boston doesn't rely on him for offense like the Lakers do Kobe Bryant, but he can't be a total nonfactor on that end. I like Boston a lot better when he's dunking over people's heads than when he's passing back out to a well-covered Ray Allen. It's time to strut your stuff, big man.
4. 3-point shooting (10 points): If either team has a player (e.g., Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Sasha Vujacic) heat up from downtown (I'm thinking of 5-for-7 or something similar), then between two evenly matched teams, that's likely enough to key a game-deciding run.
5. Home-court advantage (10 points): If the Lakers had home-court advantage, they would have turned the Celtics into real underdogs. But they don't. And the Lakers fans I have talked to are feeling just a little nervous about that fact. History shows home court really does matter.
Think about it this way: Would it surprise anyone if Boston won Game 1? Then how do you look at things?
Wild card: Paul Pierce's extra gear in recent big games. In Boston's two most recent closeout games, Pierce has been an MVP-quality player. I don't know what gets into him in those games, but it makes the Celtics something special. If he can bring that two or three times, Boston will win.
2008 NBA FINALS
And then there were two -- the Lakers and Celtics. Who will win the NBA Finals? Let the games begin.
Daily Dime• Celtics win 17th championship title
• Did C's lose Regret Game?
• A little help from Kobe's friends
• Time for L.A. to go small
• The Finals Can't Shake Donaghy Mess
• Unlikely Game 4 comeback gives C's 3-1 lead
• Rondo's ankle could change L.A.'s game plan
• Kobe leads Lakers to Game 3 win
• Lakers need to attack the paint
• Lakers learn Powe's name in Game 2
• Time for Gasol to step up
• Lakers need better defense in Game 2
• Pierce sparks Celtics in Game 1 victory
• Expert predictions, clutch stats
• Pierce loves playing Lakers
• Celtics to meet L.A. in the Finals
Lakers vs. Celtics• Stein: Q&A after six-game "sweep"
• MacMullan: Pierce's long road to greatness
• Hollinger: From camp to champs
• Stein: Boston's big three shine
• Adande: Questions loom over Lakers' future
• Hollinger: Celtics commit to defense
• Scouts Inc.: Game 6 breakdown
• Hollinger: Farmer steps up in Game 5
• Sheridan: Late-game letdown for Celtics
• Stein: Lakers ready to make history?
• Adande: Greatness eluding Phil and Kobe
• MacMullan: Doc adheres to dad's lessons
• Jackson: Time for L.A.'s concession speech?
• Stein: Game 4 not Kobe's finest hour
• Adande: KG dominates Gasol again
• Hollinger: Rivers makes all the right moves
• Hill: Kobe's Laker legacy on the line
• Hollinger: Vujacic lends helping hand in Game 3
• Jackson: Jump shot Jesus has returned
• Stein: Lakers need to earn sympathy
• Adande: Lakers feel foul over whistle disparity
• Jackson: Leading role suits Pierce
• Adande: Kobe turns away from the pass late
• Stein: Pierce's knee key to rest of series
• Finals factor 1: Kobe Bryant
• Finals factor 2: Celtics Defense
• Finals factor 3: Paul Pierce
• Finals factor 4: Home-court advantage
• Finals factor 5: Battle of the benches
• Hollinger: Lakers offense vs. Celtics defense
• Broussard: Turning back the clock
• Adande: How did Kobe get here?
• Scouts Inc. breakdown: Lakers vs. Celtics
• Coaching comparison: Red vs. Phil
• Smith: Kobe's moving forward
• Scoop: Fiendin' for a ring
• Top 10 moments of Lakers-Celtics rivalry
• ESPN Classic schedule: Relive the rivalry
TrueHoop• TrueHoop: Finals reflections
• TrueHoop: Doc Rivers' redemption
• TrueHoop: Lakers got Rondo'd
• Tough night for Allen
• Game 5 live blogging
• Laker nation vs. NBA refs
• Pierce and the evaporating knee story
• Game 2 live blogging
• Coaxing Kobe Bryant into hero mode
• Game 1 live blogging
• Today's game isn't so different
Simmons• Notes from the C's winning night
• Boston's X factors
• Game 4 running diary
• Time for NBA Finals answers
• The C's and city both look good
• The Truth comes out in Game 1
• NBA Finals forecast
• Chat: NBA Finals preview
• Simmons: You want a piece of Kobe, Boston?
ESPN The Magazine• Sporting Equivalency: NBA Finals meets hip hop
• Broussard: Reporting from the NBA Finals
Fantasy• Join the fun of NBA Finals: Playcaller
Audio• Dish: NBA Finals recap
• Wyc Grossbeck on C's championship
• Ray Allen on how the Celtics evolved
• Bob Ryan compares '86 C's to current one
• Jon Barry credits Tom Thibodeau's team defense
• Game 4 reactions
• Rajon Rondo on Pierce, Game 2 plans
• Bill Walton on Celtics-Lakers history
• Dr. J on Finals, '80s hoops