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 Chris Sheridan's ballot:
1. Kobe (40 points): I expect at least three of these games to come down to fourth-quarter shootouts that go down to the final minute, and I trust Kobe more than I trust anyone else in this series to make the right play or the big shot in those instances.
2. 2-3-2 format (20 points): Game 5 is usually the key game of any series, unless it goes seven, and it's an unfair advantage to the Lakers to have that game in their building -- especially if it's 2-2 going in.
That's why I think Boston needs to open 2-0 to have any chance to win the title.
3. Paul Pierce (20 points): He has a history of playing well back in his hometown, and his Game 7 performance against LeBron and the Cavs was one of the defining moments of his career.
If he plays with the right mix of maturity and emotion, he's nearly as dangerous as Kobe.
4. Officiating (10 points): I'd rather this wasn't a factor, but it has been the past two years.
Last June, it was the non-call when Bruce Bowen fouled LeBron on a 3-point attempt at the end of Game 3 -- I still can't believe LBJ didn't get that call in his own building.
The year before, it was Dwyane Wade's free throws at the end of Game 5.
5. Bench battle (10 points): The Celtics have a lot more size and a lot more experience on their bench, and Doc can go a little deeper than Phil, depending on what he needs.
I think second-chance points will be a key stat in the series, and Boston can win it if Kendrick Perkins and the bench bigs (P.J. Brown, Leon Powe, Glen Davis) are active on the glass.
Wild card: KG in the clutch. The knock on KG throughout his career has been that he doesn't always exude confidence in the way he plays down the stretch, which usually manifests itself with the viewer asking, "Why did he pass that instead of shoot it?"
If several of these games go down to the wire, as I expect, this will be something to watch for in those situations.