Finals Factors: Tim Legler'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 Tim Legler's ballot:
1. Paul Pierce (28 points): Pierce represents the single biggest matchup problem in this series. The Lakers just do not have a wing player good enough defensively or big enough to contain him.
If he demonstrates a scorer's mentality, Pierce can dominate this series.
2. Kobe (26 points): Kobe is the best player in the world and obviously will put his stamp on the game every night, but the Celts have taken pride in not letting their opponent's best player beat them.
He will be facing the best defensive team in the NBA, the most physical front line and the game's best defensive communicator, Kevin Garnett.
3. Celtics' defense (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.
4. 3-point shooting (11 points): It is absolutely critical that the Lakers' marksmen find the range in order to make the Celts pay for focusing on Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
The Lakers are a sensational passing team. They must find Derek Fisher, Vladimir Radmanovic, Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar when Boston overloads one side of the floor. And once they do, these shooters need to deliver.
5. Home-court advantage (10 points): Having Game 7 at home has bailed out the C's twice in these playoffs. Another long series is on the horizon and the Garden will be rockin' all the way through.
The pain of the Patriots' meltdown in the Super Bowl can be exorcised if KG can raise another banner for the most storied franchise in NBA history.
Wild card: The Celtics' other two. The big three get all the attention, but starters Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo will have a lot to do with the outcome.
Perkins can be a beast, especially against a finesse team like the Lakers, and Rondo will thrive in the open-court style the Lakers allow.
MORE NBA HEADLINES
2008 NBA FINALS
And then there were two -- the Lakers and Celtics. Who will win the NBA Finals? Let the games begin.
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• 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
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• Kobe leads Lakers to Game 3 win
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• Time for Gasol to step up
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• Pierce sparks Celtics in Game 1 victory
• Expert predictions, clutch stats
• Pierce loves playing Lakers
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• 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
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Audio• Dish: NBA Finals recap
• Wyc Grossbeck on C's championship
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• Jon Barry credits Tom Thibodeau's team defense
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• Bill Walton on Celtics-Lakers history
• Dr. J on Finals, '80s hoops