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.
Here's J.A. Adande's ballot:
(Lakers-Celtics has me feeling nostalgic, so I'm putting everything here in terms of 1980s TV shows.)
1. Kobe (48 points): It's possible this entire postseason is being played inside Kobe's head, like the kid in (spoiler alert!) the "St. Elsewhere" TV show finale. That's how in control he appears to be.
If that's the case -- or anything close to it -- Factors 2 through 6 are moot.
2. Celtics' defense (22 points):
As in, they allow only 22 points per quarter in the playoffs. It's like the gunfights on "The A-Team" for the opponents -- lots of shots are taken, but none of them is deadly.
The Celtics won Game 6 in Detroit with their fourth-quarter defense. The Lakers haven't faced anything like this so far.
3. Home-court advantage (10 points): It seemed like every week on "The Wonder Years" the narrator said, "I knew then that life would never be the same." (Could there be that many life-changing experiences in junior high?)
There are, however, many transformational moments in a team's first deep playoff run, and the question is, how will this new version of the Lakers handle starting on the road for the first time?
4. Kevin Garnett (10 points): When "Night Court" first came on, Bull the bailiff seemed really intimidating. When you caught the reruns in syndication, you realized how goofy and harmless a big man he really was.
That's often been the difference between KG in the first three quarters and KG in the fourth. But he could be only four ferocious fourth quarters away from forever altering his reputation.
5. Bench battle (10 points): The Lakers have more subs who are likely to impact the game than the Celtics' reserves.
That reminds me, has any TV series had more small guest-appearance actors go on to have legit Hollywood careers than "Miami Vice"? Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts, Jimmy Smits, Wesley Snipes, Lou Diamond Phillips, John Leguizamo, Ving Rhames, Charles S. Dutton, Esai Morales, Garcelle Beauvais, Helena Bonham Carter, Giancarlo Esposito
Wild card: Game 1. It's hard to believe the series could be decided after one game, but if the Lakers win the opener, it's over.
Phil Jackson has never lost in the playoffs after his team won the first game -- he's 41-0 lifetime. His teams know how to sustain a good start to a series.
Unlike, say, "Moonlighting."