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Finals breakdown

Center: Andrew Bynum vs. Kendrick Perkins

The Lakers sorely missed Bynum, left, two years ago against the Celtics in the Finals when he was sidelined with a knee injury. He's back but still has knee problems that have limited him to about 24 minutes per game in the postseason. The Celtics' Perkins, an excellent defender, will have an easier cover after having to go against the Magic's Dwight Howard in the Eastern Conference final.

Edge: Even

Power forward: Pau Gasol vs. Kevin Garnett

This matchup could swing the series. The Celtics' Garnett, right, easily had the better of it two years, but the Lakers' Gasol is much tougher than he was then and is having a terrific postseason. Still a top defender, Garnett scored at least 18 points in every game against Cleveland in the East semifinals, then had more than 10 once vs. Orlando.

Edge: Lakers

Small forward: Ron Artest vs. Paul Pierce

Artest, left, will drive Lakers fans and coaches nuts with some bad shots, but all will be forgiven if he can do what Los Angeles couldn't do two years ago: defend Pierce. Pierce's offensive game is back on track for the Celtics after he had to sacrifice scoring while defending LeBron James in the East semifinals, so Artest will have to be at his best.

Edge: Celtics

Shooting guard: Kobe Bryant vs. Ray Allen

The Lakers' Bryant, left, comes off a great series against Phoenix in the West final, averaging 33.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 8.3 assists while making 52.1 percent of his shots. He wants this one badly after the Celtics held him in check in their victory two years ago. Allen, one of the NBA's best shooters, scored 24 on 10 of 15 shooting in Boston's regular-season victory over Los Angeles but was limited to seven and shot 2-for-10 in its loss.

Edge: Lakers

Point guard: Derek Fisher vs. Rajon Rondo

The Celtics' Rondo, right, has been one of the best players in this postseason, but he has taken a lot of bumps along the way and wasn't as spectacular in the East final against Orlando as he was against Cleveland in the semis. Still, his athleticism makes this the one matchup that should definitely favor Boston. The Lakers' Fisher still can be counted on to hit a big shot along the way.

Edge: Celtics

Coaches: Phil Jackson vs. Doc Rivers

After the Celtics delayed him two years ago, Jackson, left, won his NBA-best 10th championship last June. Rivers carefully monitored his aging stars' minutes late in this season, even as it cost the Celtics wins. The rumor mill says neither will be back with his team next season.

Edge: Even

Reserves: Lakers' Lamar Odom, Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton vs. Celtics' Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace, Tony Allen, Nate Robinson and Michael Finley.

A lot depends on the Celtics' health. Davis and Wallace got banged up in the East final. If the Celtics are healthy, they are deeper. Allen will get plenty of chances to defend Bryant.

Edge: Celtics

Times wires, NBA.com

Finals breakdown 06/02/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 3, 2010 12:05am]

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Times wires.
    

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