Factor No. 2 in the Finals: Celtics' defense
Factor No. 2: Celtics' Defense (171 points)
Henry Abbott (50 points): If this part of their game is a constant, then home-court advantage alone could decide things.
If the Lakers are carving it up, however, I don't see how Boston can win.
Click below to see the ballots of our 10 writers:
• Henry Abbott, TrueHoop
Chris Broussard (35 points): The best defense in the league will have to slow down the best offense in the league. That's a tough chore considering the Lakers have a terrific one-on-one scorer (Kobe Bryant), great passing, interior scoring (Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom) and very good 3-point shooting. The Celtics can't win a shootout with L.A., so their D has to be excellent.
Tim Legler (25 points): They get it done as a group. Kevin Garnett is the most versatile front-line defender on the planet, and the C's have five bodies to use at the 4 and 5 positions. Pierce is underrated defensively, and Rajon Rondo has finally learned how to use his quickness to disrupt the opposition's rhythm.
Jalen Rose (25 points): Led by KG, the Celts are the best in the league at making teams shoot low percentages and getting stops when needed. They will make it tough for the Lakers to make plays, which will give the Celtics a chance to win this series.
J.A. Adande (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.
Ric Bucher (14 points): The problem the Lakers' offense poses is that Kobe, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol are compatible; all three can have big scoring nights without impinging on one another's game.
The Celtics' defense is no mirage, but can they keep the clamps on L.A.'s big three and still have the will and energy to slow down L.A.'s run-and-gun bench mob?
MORE NBA HEADLINES
- Spurs down Grizzlies in OT to open 3-0 lead
- NBA reviewing Wade's elbow, other plays
- Grizzlies' Hollins all for anti-flopping rules
- Spurs' Duncan divorcing wife of 12 years
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
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