NBA / Jun 4, 2010 / 1:00 pm

7 Major Differences Between The 2008 & 2010 NBA Finals

Rajon Rondo (photo. Gary Land)

It’d been 716 days or 17,184 hours or 1,031,040 minutes since Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals. All of that time was enough to watch the Lakers win a title, America to vote in a black President and Tiger to shoot himself in the foot. Yet, everything appears to be the same in Sternland. Boston and Los Angeles met again for the title last night, and the NBA loves it and so does most of America. Except this time, there are a few major differences. Here’s how those changes break down.

1. Rajon Rondo is in charge
There is no need to dive into this one too much. Every sports writer in the world is commenting on it. Rondo is much better. But, so is L.A.’s defense. It should be interesting to watch how much attention Kobe Bryant pays to Rondo. In the 2008 Finals (Bryant played him for most of the series) and the subsequent three regular season games since (Kobe didn’t play in their last meeting this year), Bryant has given Rondo space. At times it has worked. In fact, including the 2008 Finals, in his last five games at the Staples Center against the Lakers, Rondo’s averages are 7.2 points and 6.4 assists. In five home match-ups, those jump to 15.4 and 11. Rondo must be great if the Celtics plan to walk away with banner number 18. If Rondo is spectacular, it vaults him into the “Best PG in the League” debate.

2. James Posey is gone
While many attempted to pin Kobe’s subpar play in the 2008 Finals on the defense of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, it was actually James Posey who was the toughest stopper. Kobe had huge scoring first quarters in Game 3 (11), Game 5 (15) and even in the Game 6 blowout (11). Yet, Posey killed any momentum he had throughout the rest of the series. Game 3 was the only contest that Bryant enjoyed an efficient fourth quarter. Posey also hit numerous big shots throughout the series and was probably more productive by himself than L.A.’s entire bench. This time his minutes will be taken by Tony Allen, who is nowhere near the shooter nor defender Posey was in 2008. But, this Laker bench is about half as potent as the one they had in 2008 (even if that group did struggle in the Finals) so that may help to mitigate some of what Boston is missing with no Posey.

3. Andrew Bynum is healthy
Another obvious difference. Bynum wore suits all series long in 2008. Now, he’s wearing the mantle of perhaps this year’s biggest x-factor. During the Lakers’ Jan. 31 win in Boston, Bynum was a pivotal key with 19 points, 11 rebounds and a couple of blocked shots. L.A. won’t be expecting those types of numbers out of the 22-year old with his slightly torn meniscus. However, his length and size will be absolutely critical in a number of categories such as keeping Rondo under control, the points-in-the-paint battle and allowing Lamar Odom the chance to not play inside for 30 minutes a game.

4. Kendrick Perkins has developed
Perkins has developed into maybe the best post defender in the league and took command of the vaunted Boston defense when Kevin Garnett hurt his knee. Freed from Dwight Howard, everyone should expect Perkins offensive game to pick up slightly. He did average 10 points a game this year. Whether he plays Bynum or Pau Gasol, expect Perkins to be an annoyance and nuisance for the Laker bigs. During the 2008 Finals, Perkins was a non-factor and didn’t have a single night of either double digit points or rebounds. He also missed Game 5 with a strained shoulder. This year, his tenacity will play a massive role in the series and not just because he is one tech away from a suspension.

5. Ron Artest is a Laker
All season long, Artest was quietly effective for the Lakers. He did exactly what they brought him in to do: hit standstill threes, improve their defense and bring a physical authority. He answered the call for all three. During the regular season, he made 36 percent of his threes and his playoff percentage increased with each round. Also, according to 82games.com, he was L.A.’s best defender. They gave up 4.5 points per 100 possessions less whenever he was on the court. Finally, there is no doubting this is a tougher Laker team simply because of his presence. He was brought here to defend LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce. Now, he’ll have to do it.

6. Home court advantage
Since acquiring Gasol in February of 2008, the Lakers’ playoff home record is an insane 28-3. This year, they are a perfect 8-0. Reasons? Bryant is an absolute killer at home. But, more importantly their role players actually play like pros in the Staples Center. During the 2008 Finals, Boston had home court and effectively ended the series with their incredible Game 4 comeback win. L.A. has it this year, but Boston is perhaps the one team it won’t matter against. They blew out Cleveland twice in Ohio and then took the first two from the Magic when nobody thought they had a chance. Boston’s record from this season proves their mettle: including the playoffs their home record is 31-19 and their road record is 31-18. There is a very strong possibility Boston wins at least once in the Staples Center.

7. Team mentalities
In 2008, the Celtics played like animals, savagely ripping apart the entire league for most of the season. It was no wonder that once they smelled blood in the Finals, they completely deflated L.A.’s mojo. The Lakers were probably a year early to the party and most of their roster, besides Bryant and Derek Fisher, seemed to believe that. But in this year’s series, both teams have different things on their minds. The Lakers are searching for vindication. Even last season’s championship victory over Orlando did little to suture the wounds they still have from Boston’s beat down. And the Celtics are attempting to join a long list of great Celtic teams. They want to be thrown in that mix with the rest of the green dynasties. They’re playing off pride and the confidence that only hardened champions can earn. It will be interesting to see which team can instill their attitude into this series.

What do you think? What are the major difference between the 2008 & 2010 NBA Finals?

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  • http://www.youtube.com/user/heh8meN1 heh8meN1

    One down. 3 to go. On to the next ONE.


  • sh!tfaced

    8. Leon Powe
    – He was probably the biggest mismatch that the Lakers didn’t have an answer for. He could have helped roughing up Ron Artest the right way too.

    8. Age
    – the Celtics’ core are past their primes and the Lakers are either at their peak (Kobe) or peaking (Gasol).

    9. KG’s knee
    – He’s just a role player now.

    10. The Revenge Factor
    – Lakers aren’t taking anything for granted anymore.

    11. Kobe’s trust in his teammates.

    12. Kobe’s focus and will.

    13. Lucky the Mascot
    – Got fired because championship success got to his head. And there ain’t nothing more appropriate at no. 13 than “lucky”.

  • LakeShow84

    I dont think Posey would have shit to throw at Kobe nowadays..

    He did good that series but all these comparison are MOOT points.. Kobe is a better player now as is Gasol, as is Bynum.. And RonRon hitting his shots is the icing on the cake considering his sasquatch death hands lol

    And like sh!tfaced pointed out: THIS IS REVENGE.. OUR WHOLE TEAM is playing hard.. Farmar and Brown contributed off the bench as did Odom (decent D).. Gasol beasted, RonRon hit his shots, Bynum played BIG, Fish hit his first couple of shots, Kobe was Kobe, etc, etc..

    Biggest difference is we are MENTALLY sound this time around.. We KNOW we more talented and we know how to do this..

    Goodnight Boston..

  • control

    If Rondo is your best player, you are fucked. He isn’t in “top pg of the league” discussion, regardless of media hype.

    Tony Allen IS the Celtic’s bench. The Celts aren’t the Suns, they are old dogs. Need to get those old guys some rest and prune flavored gatoraid.

    Andrew Bynum isn’t healthy. He should be healthy enough to bang a few of the Celts to the ground and earn himself his 5 fouls a game.

    How can you say Perkins is “maybe best post defender in the league” and then mention Dwight Howard in the same paragraph? That just doesn’t make sense, Perk is like an above average defender (assuming the ref lets him play) but he’s not even as good as Ben Wallace or Marcus Camby.

    Pretty much every single thing that has changed since 08 has changed in the Laker’s favor…

  • isotope

    Also add:
    The core of the Lakers have had more time to play together. In 2008, they were dealing with injuries and Pau Gasol didn’t play with the theam the whole season. Also, the Celtic’s big three aren’t surprising anyone. In 2008, they were under-estimated because of the way they struggled with all the 7 game series and we were(at least I was) expecting them to have chemistry issues with all the egos. Will that be enough to change the outcome this year? Only TIME will tell.

  • MW

    To me the biggest differences are Ron Artest is there to help Kobe on Defense. In 08 Kobe has to switch and cover which ever Celtic was hot so all series long he had to cover the best player. Now he has Artest to help with that. The other difference is that Kobe has actually gotten better (scary) and no matter what game plan the Celtics have he will not be stopped on offense. I personally don’t think that Bynum is that big a factor due to the fact that Gasol is so good and when on Odom can take more that hold his own against the Celtics

  • kdevore

    The Celts did not show up yesterday, Gasol played an amazing game, Kobe was great, the Lakers played the best defense that they can play… and the Lakers won by 15. It should have been 25. If Kevin Garnett shows up on Sunday (he was terrible last night), Ray Allen stays out of foul trouble, and the Celts decide to play some defense, I expect a Celtic victory.

  • old guy

    No one ever talks about House, i think he makes a big difference stretching the lakers defense. House also hit some of those timely 3s!

  • Chi-Tizzle

    Its simple. Kobe is in extra kill mode. Bynum is playing (hopefully the rest of the series). People forget that Trevor was injured to in 08, so Paul was killing Luke, Kobe would have to switch which left Sasha on Ray Ray, basically pick ur poison. LA has a healthy and respected replacement now in Artest so Kobe can put a lock on Ray. C’s don’t have Powe and PJ. When Perkins gets his stupid fouls, they go with Sheed and he is not a fab rebounder exspecially for offense boards since he stays around the circle trying to shoot 3s. Other then that they got big baby but he is too short to battle with Pau and Drew. C’s would have to have sound ball movement and a high FG% to win.

  • SlimeBucket

    Ball movement alone isn’t enough with playoff level defense. You can swing it around but someone has to break the defense somewhere. Rondo needs a pull up J. Ray Allen has to work way too hard(last night they showed that he went like 72 – 78 feet of distance) to get one open shot and his game doesn’t get him to the free throw line enough. Is he going to do that 20 times a game to score 20 points and play defense on Artest(bang him in the post) or Kobe(playing the smartest basketball of his career)? Fisher was making sure to cover up the baseline and funnel him to the middle where the giants await. The few times Ray went baseline he took a very difficult missed reverse layup. Even Gasol blocked one of his jumpers. Artest is locking down Pierce. Pierce needs to match Kobe’s output but he will only average around 20-23 which isn’t enough. Also Rondo was letting his man get to the hoop too much. And KG is just done. All he has is the fadeaway now. No running hook, no taking his man off the dribble. I mean he was struggling against Shard in Orlando series already. Gasol is a much tougher defender. :(

    I mean before Game 1 I thought this would be a competitive series with a possible Celtics upset. After seeing them actually play, these Celtics match up horribly with the Lakers. It seemed like the Lakers had a great game plan coming in right from the start and the Celtics thought they were playing the 2008 Lakers. I’m not watching any of the other games because it is clear that LA is going to beat them down and it won’t be a competitive series. Celtics maybe win one game. This is going to be a repeat of when the Spurs beat down the Cavs most likely. Now we have to hear all the Lakers fan talk trash for the next year or two.

  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    old guy- Eddie House was huge in that 2008 series. He gets no love because he is…Eddie House. But, in that Game 4 comeback, he was in for basically the entire second half over Rondo to stretch the D. Good catch.

  • Ian

    number 12 is bs. so kobe didnt have focus in 08 his will wasnt there??

  • Sir Humpalot

    So James Posey was the Kobe stopper in ’08? Huh? Did you even watch the ’08 Finals?

    Posey rarely guarded Kobe at all in the series. The biggest stretch that he guarded Kobe was in the first half in Game 6 because Ray Allen got poked in the eye and had to go to the locker room for a while. For the rest of the series, he matched up almost exclusively with Lamar Odom.

    Ya’ll need to watch the games before writing. Don’t talk if you don’t know.

    It was Ray Allen and Paul Pierce who did a number on Kobe in the ’08 Finals. “James Posey was the Kobe stopper” is a big myth.

  • The Dude Abides

    The Lakers are now 6-2 with Kobe defending Rondo (Game 1 2010 Finals, three reg season games the past two seasons, and Games 3-6 of the 2008 Finals). They were 0-4 when Fish was Rondo’s primary defender (two reg season games in 2008, Games 1 & 2 of the 08 Finals). That is one of the three biggest differences from the early games of the 2008 Finals, the other two being Artest instead of Vlad Rad guarding Pierce, and the presence of Bynum, which frees up Gasol from having to bang with Perkins in the low post. During the majority of the 2008 Finals, Perkins was able to shove Gasol around, with Garnett owning Odom.

  • kowtz

    #1 reason and the most significant of all…

    In 2008, The big three were already at their peak, trying to snatch a Championship before they completely deteriorate with age…

    A MILLION or so minutes later…

    They simply AGED…

  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    @Sir Humpalot I don’t know what series you were watching, but James Posey did a number on Kobe Bryant for long stretches during the 2008 Finals.