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NBA Finals: Odds Favor the Boston Celtics by 3-1

Paul PeszkoSenior Writer IJune 7, 2008

It is rare that Las Vegas would set the odds for an NBA Championship at three-to-one. Even with the Celtics up one game-to-none, in a seven game series the best you would get at the sports books is probably two-to-one.

But three-to-one are truly Hall of Fame odds for this series.

Of the four can’t-miss Hall of Fame players in the Finals, three – Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce – are on the Celtics. Only one – Kobe Bryant, the NBA’s MVP – is a Laker.

The number two and three Lakers – Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom – are not future Hall of Famers. Only one of them was even named to an NBA All-Star team. Gasol was named a reserve for the Western Conference All-Stars in the 2005-2006 while a member of the Memphis Grizzlies.

If we look at Game One, we can easily see the difference three future Hall of Famers make, as opposed to only one. Garnett had 24 points, Pierce had 22, and Allen had 19, for a total of 65.

Meanwhile, Bryant topped the Lakers with 25 points, the same as his career average. Then there was a steep drop to Gasol with 15, and Odom with 14, approximately what he has averaged so far in the Playoffs.

That’s a total of 54 points. Eleven less than the The Three Amigos totaled for the Celtics. That meant the rest of the Lakers would have to outscore the rest of the Celtics by eleven points to pull dead even.

As the final score indicates, Celtics 98- Lakers 88, they could only manage to best the rest of the Celtics by one point.

If we look at the defensive side, the Celtics future Hall of Famers out-rebounded Bryant, Gasol and Odom. Kevin Garnett had 13 rebounds, Ray Allen had 8, and Paul Pierce 4, for a total of 25 out the Celtics 46 rebounds.

For the Lakers, Gasol had 8 (zero in the first-half), Odom had only 6, and Bryant had 3, for a total of 17 out of the Lakers 33 rebounds. Again, that meant the rest of the team would have to out-rebound the rest of the Celtics by eight. But with P. J. Brown grabbing six rebounds in place of the injured Kendrick Perkins, the Lakers didn’t come close. And therein lies the story of Game One.

Taking into account career stats, the overall picture looks a little better for the Lakers, but it is still an uphill battle. For their careers, the Three Amigos have averaged a combined 64.6 points per game. Bryant, Gasol and Odom have only averaged a combined 59.4. That’s a difference of 5.2 points.

Also, one must take into account that the averages for Allen and Garnett have been compiled over a longer period of time, 11 and 12 years respectively, compared to Gasol and Odom with six and eight years respectively.

As for career rebounding stats, they actually favor the Lakers when matching Garnett, Pierce and Allen with Bryant, Gasol and Odom. Garnet has averaged 11.2 rebounds per game, Paul Pierce 6.4, and Ray Allen 4.5.

For the Lakers, Odom has averaged 8.6 over 8 years, Gasol 8.9 over 6 years, and Bryant 4.6 over 11 years in the NBA. That averages out to 24.1 rebounds per game compared to 22.1 for the Celtics' top three players.

But as was evidenced Thursday night, when Garnett neutralized Gasol’s rebounding capability for the entire first half and Odom relinquished the boards for a better view of the game from the perimeter, a team can quickly lose whatever advantage they may have on the boards.

Overall, it’s not only the averages, but the intangibles that a Hall of Famer brings to the game.

One of the intangibles that those additional years of experience give the three Hall of Famers, along with P. J. Brown’s 14 years and James Posey’s eight years, is the ability to quickly scope out what the officials are calling and not calling.

That was how Garnett was able to keep Gasol away from boards. He knew just how physical he could get with Gasol before the officials would call a foul.

The result: the Celtics were only called for 22 fouls while the Lakers got hit with 29. The Celtics had 35 charity attempts and made 28. The Lakers were 21 for 28.

Both Odom and Radmanovic had five fouls each, while no Celtic had more than four.

Also, the Lakers ran out of fouls to give, putting them in a penalty situation well before the Celtics.

While there is probably not another player in the world who can match talents with Kobe Bryant, the advantage of having three Hall of Fame players on your team and all the intangibles they bring as well as the numbers gives the Celtics a decided advantage.

Three-to-one at last count.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the Lakers do have another Hall of Famer.  He's on the bench, however.  Should he suit up for the game, he would be the first NBA player to ever play the game with hip replacements.

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