Can the Los Angeles Lakers pull off the three-peat?

Over the last few years Los Angeles Lakers have been without a doubt the best team in the NBA. No matter who doubts this team year in and year out or what kind of struggles they may face throughout the NBA regular season, Kobe Bryant and company just seem to elevate their game at the right time every single year and make a charge in the playoffs in order to contend for yet another NBA title.

This season Phil Jackson and his squad came into the year with a target on their back once again as they had won two consecutive NBA titles and were favored to have a legitimate shot at winning their third in a row. This is obviously nothing new for Phil Jackson as he has won two three-peats with the Chicago Bulls back in the Michael Jordan era and one three-peat with the Los Angeles Lakers in the Shaq/Kobe era in th

Photo of Los Angeles Lakers Andrew Bynum.
Image via Wikipedia

e City of Angels.

Bet the NBA Season with Bodog Sportsbook

With that being said, there is no head coach in the league today that is more prepared or experience when competing for an NBA title and a three-peat for that matter. There is no question that there has been plenty of bumps in the road this season as the Lakers have had their fair share of struggles. Not only have they been banged up with injuries as they normally are throughout the regular season as Andrew Bynum missed considerable time and the beginning of the year once again, but they’ve also hit some serious slumps during the year and at one point or thought to not have what it takes to compete for an NBA title.

Fortunately, as they seem to do every single season, the Lakers have hit that proverbial switch in which they just turned it onto another level entirely with the kind of championship swagger that had over the last couple years on the way to beating the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.

With three straight appearances in the NBA finals, the Los Angeles Lakers are no strangers to playoff time and knowing how to compete in order to beat the best of the best consistently. This year they might have their work cut out for them once again in the playoffs as they will have to almost certainly contend with the likes of one or more of the best teams in the Western Conference.

Sign up for an Account Now at Bodog Sportsbook

Even though last season was no cakewalk for the Lakers as they do have to face a very good Oklahoma City Thunder squad and the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals, this time around it will be even tougher in perhaps their toughest challenge of the last three

Phil Jackson (center), coach, Los Angeles Lakers
Image via Wikipedia

years.

With the San Antonio Spurs playing out of their minds this season and teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Ma

vericks playing at an extremely high level, the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers will have their work cut out for them from start to finish the minute the playoffs begin.

Personally, I still believe that no team in the Western Conference can beat the Los Angeles Lakers in a seven-game series, but they will be truly tested this time around as they can’t afford any injuries and must play their best basketball every single game from here on out.

Enhanced by Zemanta

NBA Power Rankings: Lakers reign supreme once again

#1- Los Angeles Lakers (48-20)

Any time a team in any professional sport wins a championship a target is painted directly on their back the following season as every single team in there league will be giving them all they can handle each and every night. The Los Angeles Lakers have not only had to endure that treatment last season, but they have done it again this and so far they have come out on top as they are arguably once again the best team in the league.

Bet on NBA and NCAA Basketball with Bodog Sportsbook

Lakers vs. Nets - Jan. 14, 2011

#2- Chicago Bulls (47-18)

Throughout this entire NBA regular season people have doubted the Chicago Bulls chance of competing with the best of the best and being able to make a run at an NBA title. As of yesterday, those doubts have vanished as the Chicago Bulls are officially owners of the best record in the Eastern Conference ahead of the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat.

Even though this team still has to prove themselves come playoff time, they have play extremely well at this point and have a lot of people talking about a Bulls-Lakers NBA Finals at season’s end.

#3- San Antonio Spurs (54-13)

All season long the San Antonio Spurs have been the best team in the league statistically and record wise. Even though they will almost certainly head into the playoffs as the number one overall seed in the Western Conference and the league’s best record, they have really shown some flaws as of late with two big losses to the two-time defending NBA champion Lakers and the revamped Heat.

If any team can turn it around and get back to playing dominant basketball on both ends of the floor it is the Spurs, but they will need to step it up from here on out if they expect to contend with the Lakers come playoff time.

Bet the NBA Season with Bodog Sportsbook – Click Here to get your Betting Account

#4- Dallas Mavericks (47-19)

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 20: Jason Kidd #2 of the...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Like most of the teams on this list, the Dallas Mavericks fell victim to the defending champs recently as Kobe Bryant and company came into Dallas and just dominated the Mavs from start to finish. Not only did this loss ultimately result in the Mavs dropping to the third seed in the West, but it may have also damaged their confidence if they should meet the Lakers during the playoffs.

#5- Boston Celtics (47-18)

It wasn’t all that long ago that the Boston Celtics were considered to be arguably the best team in the league as they were dominant on both ends of the floor, especially defensively. Ever since they made the trade sending arguably their best defender in Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder, this team has really struggled to get back to form and as a result have been knocked out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference and are in danger of falling out of the top five on this list.

#6-10- Miami Heat (46-21), Oklahoma City Thunder (43-23), Denver Nuggets (40-27), Orlando Magic (42-26) and Portland Trail Blazers (37-29)

Enhanced by Zemanta

NBA Matchup: Los Angeles Lakers @ Dallas Mavericks

Before Thursday night’s loss to the Miami Heat in South Beach, the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers were arguably the hottest team in the league with eight straight wins. After beating the league leading San Antonio Spurs in convincing fashion last Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers showed the entire league that they are ready to make the final push for the playoffs and yet another NBA title.

Unfortunately, even though they are still considered to be arguably the best team in the league right now after their impressive run as of late, they did suffer a loss to the Miami Heat and may have jeopardized their chances of competing with the Dallas Mavericks for the second seed in the Western Conference.

Bet on NBA and NCAA Basketball with Bodog Sportsbook

Kobe Bryant
Image by jjani via Flickr

With the Dallas Mavericks dominating the New York Knicks on Thursday (127-109) and the Los Angeles Lakers losing to the Miami Heat (94-88), the Mavs are now a game and half ahead of the Lakers in the West. Even though Thursday’s games did give the Mavs the edge moving forward, these two Western Conference heavyweights will be going head-to-head on Saturday night in Dallas.

A win for the Lakers on Saturday night would be a big step in the right direction moving forward as they would be just a half game back of the Mavs in the West. With 15 regular season games left before the playoffs, the Lakers will have a great opportunity to take over the second seed.

In my opinion, the Lakers could go 10-5 in the next 15 games as they play teams like the Utah Jazz (twice), Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and the New Orleans Hornets. Along with these relatively easy wins, the Los Angeles Lakers will also face these playoff bound teams in the final stretch of the season: Dallas Mavericks (twice), Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers (twice), Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.

Bet the NBA Season with Bodog Sportsbook

Bryant pass
Image by jjani via Flickr

So things are looking up for the Lakers as they could head into the playoffs full steam ahead, but they will first have to get past the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night. Not only could the Lakers meet the Mavs in the playoffs at some point, but they will need to get this win in Dallas this weekend in order to get back on track and prove that the loss to the Heat has only motivated them more moving forward.

This game will be another tough one for the Lakeshow as they will be facing a Dallas Mavericks squad that is coming off a huge win over Carmelo Anthony and the revamped New York Knicks 127-109. Even though the Los Angeles Lakers pose some pretty big matchup problems in the paint for the Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki and company will give the defending champs a run for their money on Saturday night as they have won eight of their last ten games.

Enhanced by Zemanta

NBA Power Rankings: Lakers reclaim top spot with dominant victory over Spurs

#1 Los Angeles Lakers (45-19)

The two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers may have been struggling heading into the All-Star break, but the loss to arguably the worst team in the league in the Cleveland Cavaliers may have been just what the doctor ordered for this team as they have been the hottest team in the NBA since that loss.

Bet the NBA Season with Bodog Sportsbook – Click Here to get your Betting Account

With seven straight wins and a dominant performance over arguably the best team in the league in the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers are making a case for the fact that they might be NBA Finals bound for the fourth straight year.

SAN ANTONIO - JANUARY 14:  Kobe Bryant #24 of ...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

#2 Chicago Bulls (43-18)

Even though the Chicago Bulls were targeting hometown boy free agent Dwyane Wade this last summer, not being able to sign the superstar may have been a blessing in disguise as point guard Derrick Rose has quickly become the favorite for NBA MVP this season and has led this team to second place in the Eastern Conference after a big win over the Miami Heat.

Whether or not the Bulls can maintain this kind of momentum remains to be seen, but as of right now they seem to be playing as well as any team in the league with a solid shot at clinching a high seed in the East heading into the playoffs.

#3 San Antonio Spurs (51-12)

Throughout the majority of this NBA regular season, the San Antonio Spurs have been the team to beat as they have been able to stay relatively healthy and consistently win basketball games. Ever since the All-Star break though, the Spurs have lost two big games to the Memphis Grizzlies and the arch rival Los Angeles Lakers.

Even though these losses haven’t really affected their chances of clinching the top seed in the West, they have shown that this team can be vulnerable and as a result they have fallen to third from first on this list.

Bet on NBA and NCAA Basketball with Bodog Sportsbook

#4 Dallas Mavericks (45-17)

The Dallas Mavericks are staying strong in the Western Conference once again as they have been able to hold on to the second seed in the West for quite some time now and got a big boost off the bench with the addition of Corey Brewer, but they might be in danger of losing their grip on the second seed if they can’t hold of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant pass
Image by jjani via Flickr

With just a handful of games left in the NBA regular season, the Mavs will be looking to win as many as possible before playoff time as the defending champs begin to breathe down their necks.

#5 Boston Celtics (46-15)

With all that has happen in the NBA over the past few weeks like the resurgence of the Lakers, struggles of the Heat and the Carmelo Anthony trade, the Boston Celtics have been able to fly relatively under the radar, but they may have their work cut out for them in the final stretch of the season trying to hold off the Chicago Bulls for the top spot in the East.

#6-10 Orlando Magic (40-23), Oklahoma City Thunder (39-22), Memphis Grizzlies (35-29), Miami Heat (43-20), Denver Nuggets (37-27)

Enhanced by Zemanta

NBA Matchup: Charlotte Bobcats @ Los Angeles Lakers

Charlotte Bobcats at Los Angeles Lakers Fri. March 4, 2011 10:30 p.m. EST

The two-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers are on a roll and getting hot at just the right time. Heading into the NBA All-Star break, Kobe Bryant and company were really starting to struggle as they had lost three straight to three teams they should have beaten in the Orlando Magic, Charlotte Bobcats and arguably the worst team in the league in the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Bet on NBA and NCAA Basketball with Bodog Sportsbook

Fortunately, the All-Star break may have been just what the doctored ordered for the defending champs as they got out to fresh start in the final stretch of the NBA regular season. With five straight wins, three of which against playoff teams, the Lakers have started to make the rest of the league pay attention as they have flipped the preverbal switch.

It is uncertain whether or not the Los Angeles Lakers have what it takes to pull the three-peat in Phil Jackson’s farewell season, but things are definitely looking up right now as Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum are all starting to fire on all cylinders. Even though this team says that there is no “switch” that they pull in the second half of the NBA regular season, the results beg to differ as they are playing

Kobe Bryant of the Lakers
Image via Wikipediaas well as any team in the league right now.

On Friday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the defending champs will be tested once again as they will go head-to-head against the Charlotte Bobcats. Despite the Bobcats being arguably one of the worst teams in the league this season and recently trading away arguably their best all-around player in forward Gerald Wallace, Charlotte is one of two teams (Boston Celtics being the other) in the league that have a winning record over the Los Angeles Lakers all-time.

Bet the NBA Season with Bodog  – Click Here to get your Betting Account

With that being said and the fact that the Bobcats recently beat the Lakers in Charlotte, Stephen Jackson and company might have a legitimate of pulling off the upset once again. In my opinion though, the Lakers are playing at an extremely high level right now and seem to be back to championship form.

As of right now, the Los Angeles Lakers are favored to come out on top in this matchup with a -12.5 point spread. This spread is way too high in my opinion as the Charlotte Bobcats will almost certainly give the Los Angeles Lakers a run for their money on Friday night.

Ultimately, the Lakers should win their sixth straight as I don’t see them losing that many games before the NBA playoffs, but there is a possibility of an upset here considering the past between these two teams.

So if your betting the spread, taking the Charlotte Bobcats at +12.5 would be a wise decision as a blowout of this magnitude is unlikely.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Will the Lakers make a trade before the Thursday deadline?

There was no doubt in many people’s minds coming into this NBA regular season that the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers would be a serious force to be reckoned with once again as they have the same team relatively intact and were more ready to send off Hall of Fame head coach Phil Jackson with a record 12th NBA title.

Even though was the consensus around the league that the Miami Heat would be the team to beat in the NBA this season after acquiring both LeBron James and Chris Bosh while re-signing superstar Dwyane Wade, the Los Angeles Lakers came out firing on all cylinders in the first month of the NBA regular season and looked near unstoppable at times.

Bet on NBA and NCAA Basketball with Bodog Sportsbook

Lamar Odom playing with the Los Angeles Lakers
Image via Wikipedia

Not only was Kobe Bryant playing at a very high level once again and apparently healthy, but the team as a whole was just clicking on both ends of the floor. The one player that seemed to be surprising everyone was forward Lamar Odom. After his time with team USA in the off-season, Odom seem to have turned into a different player and much more confident and ready to help this team pull off the three-peat.

Unfortunately, as the season started to wear on the Los Angeles Lakers started to show signs of weakness, especially on the defensive side of the floor. With their recent struggles, a lot of people started to speculate about the age of this team as the average was 30 years old.

Obviously, teams like the San Antonio Spurs have been unaffected by the collective age as Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili have been able to get the job done this season and turn the team into arguably the best in the league. With that being said, I believe the Lakers problem this year is lack of motivation.

With three straight NBA Finals appearances and more games played than any other team in the NBA over the past three years, the Los Angeles Lakers are simply fatigued and finding it hard to get that motivation factor back as they know that the only time they really need to play solid team basketball is playoff time.

Even though the NBA doesn’t have 162 game schedule like the MLB, 82 games +16 or more playoff games can still take its toll on the team especially when some of the players don’t stop there and play for their national team in the off-season.

At seem like the two-time defending champs needs no excuses as no great team does, but with the recent lack of motivation and the fact that they’re losing the teams like the Charlotte Bobcats and the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers shows that maybe a trade would be the best thing for this storied franchise.

Bet the NBA Season with Bodog Sportsbook – Click Here to get your Betting Account

One trade rumors that has been floating around Los Angeles has been involving Denver Nuggets superstar Carmelo Anthony. The deal would reportedly send center Andrew Bynum to the Mile High City in exchange for the All-Star forward. There would almost certainly be other players in this deal, but Bynum would be at the core.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 07:  Lamar Odom #7 of t...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

With the New Jersey Nets looking like they have the advantage right now in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, the Los Angeles Lakers might have to look elsewhere if they do intend on making a trade before the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 24.

Another deal that was supposedly in the works was the Lakers sending defensive specialist Ron Artest to the Bobcats in exchange for Stephen Jackson or Gerald Wallace. In my opinion, this deal would have been a steal for the Lakers as they would almost certainly improve their club drastically with the addition of Jackson or Wallace, but the deal fell through.

So at this point it is uncertain whether or not Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak will actually pull the trigger on a trade before the deadline, but with this recent loss to the Cavaliers heading into the All-Star break, it has become obvious that something needs to change if this team expects to three-peat.

Enhanced by Zemanta

NBA Matchup: Atlanta Hawks @ Los Angeles Lakers

Atlanta Hawks at Los Angeles Lakers Tues. Feb. 22, 2011 10:30 p.m. EST

Before heading into the All-Star break, the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers were really struggling as they had lost the last three games of their road trip. Even though Kobe Bryant and company were able to get the best of the arch rival Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks in consecutive games, they just lost something when they lost to the Orlando Magic which carried over against the Charlotte Bobcats and the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers.

Obviously, losing to the Magic is no big deal as they are very good team and happen to catch the Lakers fatigued and near the end of their road trip. The loss to the Bobcats was also not much of a surprise as the Lakers have a losing record all-time against Charlotte. For some reason, Kobe and company just struggled when they take on the Bobcats no matter how well Charlotte may be doing at that particular time.

Bet the NBA Season with Bodog Sportsbook – Click Here to get your Betting Account

Ultimately, it was the loss to the Cavs in Cleveland that started to open a lot of people’s eyes. Not only had the Cavs just recently ended their historic losing streak by beating the Los Angeles Clippers, but they are considered to be the worst team in NBA right now with almost no hope for the future.

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant
Image via Wikipedia

With this loss, the speculation that the two-time defending champs no longer have what it takes to compete for another title started to circulate around the league. Fortunately, the Lakers will have a chance to prove their doubters wrong once again as they will take on a very good Atlanta Hawks team on their home floor at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

On Tuesday night, the league will see what the Lakers have left as they will be tested against the likes of All-Stars Joe Johnson and Al Horford. The Atlanta Hawks might not be considered to be amongst the elite in the Eastern Conference with the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls, but they are close and are always a dangerous team.

This game will not only test the Lakers toughness in the paint, but also their ability to guard perimeter players like Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford. Josh Smith and Al Horford will cause some problems for Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the paint, but the key matchup here will be Kobe Bryant on Joe Joe Johnson.

Bet on NBA and NCAA Basketball with Bodog Sportsbook

There has been a lot of talk as of late that Kobe is no longer the best player in the league as the miles he has put on his legs have finally caught up with him, but after putting on a show in the 2011 NBA All-Star game last weekend, the Black Mamba showed that he still might have a few more seasons of dominance left.

As of right now, the Los Angeles Lakers are pretty heavily favored to come out on top in this one with a -8 point spread, but I believe this will be a fairly close game and taking the Atlanta Hawks at +8 would be the best bet.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Kobe Bryant leads West to victory over East in 2011 All-Star game

The only elite team in the NBA that seemed to be struggling coming into the All-Star break this past weekend was the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. With three straight losses to the Orlando Magic, Charlotte Bobcats and arguably the worst team in the league in the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Lakers obviously had problems, but fortunately this weekend they had an opportunity to put their problems behind them as they hosted the 2011 NBA All-Star game.

Coming into this All-Star game, five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant knew that this would most likely be his last time playing this game on his home floor at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Not only did the Black Mamba want to put on a show for the hometown Lakers fans, but he also came into this game with the knowledge that he could tie NBA legend Bob Pettit with his fourth NBA All-Star MVP award.

Bet the NBA Season with Bodog Sportsbook – Click Here to get your Betting Account

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers drives t...
Image via Wikipedia

Just like Michael Jordan did back in the day, Kobe Bryant uses anything he can as motivation and he did just that this past Sunday as he was on fire from start to finish. Along with tying Bob Pettit with a fourth MVP award in the All-Star game, Kobe also came just five points shy of tying Lakers legend Wilt Chamberlain for most points scored in an All-Star game by finishing with a game-high 37.

Even though Kobe Bryant could have easily broken Wilt’s record of 42 points, he became a distributor in the closing minutes by letting the league’s leading scorer Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) take over. Durant finished with 32 points and proved that he is now amongst the elite in the West and might get the torch from Kobe when he decides to call it quits.

LeBron James led the way for the Eastern Conference All-Stars with just the second triple-double in All-Star game history. Michael Jordan did it back in 1997, but LeBron James was near unstoppable in the fourth quarter as he got the East back into this game while finishing with a team-high 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

Bet on NBA and NCAA Basketball with Bodog Sportsbook

Despite LeBron’s valiant effort in the fourth, it just wasn’t enough to overcome the West as they ended up beating the East 148-143. Along with Kobe finishing with 37 points and 14 rebounds for the West, fellow Lakers teammate Pau Gasol had a pretty big impact off the bench with 17 points.

The combination of Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant was just too much for the East to handle in this one. They may have threatened to steal this game from the West in the closing minutes as LeBron just barreled his way to the basket on every single possession, but ultimately the West had the game in hand and came out on top.

LeBron was almost able to eclipse Kobe in the running for All-Star game MVP, but being that this game was in Los Angeles and Kobe had just dunked on LeBron late in the game, there was no way the Black Mamba wasn’t coming home without the hardware.

Enhanced by Zemanta

NBA Matchup: Los Angeles Lakers @ Boston Celtics

Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics Thurs. Feb. 10, 2011 8 p.m. EST

As one of the few heated NBA rivalries to stand the test of time, the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics always give each other a run for their money every time they go head-to-head during the NBA regular season.

A few weeks ago, the Lakers and the Celtics faced off for the first time since Game 7 of the2010 NBA Finals. Obviously, Kevin Garnett and company still had a bitter taste in their mouths considering how close they came to get the best of the Lakers once again on the NBA’s biggest stage and winning yet another NBA title.

Bet the NBA Season with Bodog Sportsbook – Click Here to get your Betting Account

Even though these two teams were considered to be equals on the basketball court heading into this showdown at the Staples Center, that wasn’t the consensus around the league once the final buzzer sounded at the end of the fourth quarter. The Lakers may have been in control in the first half with reigning NBA Finals MVP Kobe Bryant lighting up the scoreboard for 22 points heading into halftime, but the second half was a different story altogether.

Once the second half began, Paul Pierce really started to get hot in the third quarter and finished with a team-high 32 points. Pierce’s big third quarter was the turning point in this game as the Lakers were able to keep it close, but losing control after the Celtics’ leading scorer took over.

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett shoots ov...
Image via Wikipedia

Kobe Bryant tried to rally his boys back in the fourth quarter, like he had done countless times during his Hall of Fame caliber career, but the Black Mamba’s season-high 41 points turned out to be not enough to lead the defending champs to victory over their arch rivals.

On Thursday night, the Lakers will travel to Boston and enter an extremely hostile environment at the Garden. Even though Phil Jackson’s squad struggled to compete with the Celtics late in their last meeting, the Lakers will come into this game with a must win mentality as a loss to Boston could devastate this team’s confidence against the best of the best in the league.

Over the past few days, there have been a lot of trade rumors circulating around the Lakers as players like Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum appear to be on the block. The Lakers have recently been linked to superstar Carmelo Anthony and a trade with the Denver Nuggets, but it is all speculation at this point.

Bet on NBA and NCAA Basketball with Bodog Sportsbook

If the Lakers do lose to the Celtics for the second time this season on Thursday night, the defending champs will almost certainly a make deal to improve their team and their chances of pulling off the three-peat in Phil Jackson’s farewell season.

Personally, I believe the Lakers still have some fight in them as all they need to do is starting playing up to their potential, but this team seems prone to quitting when the chips are down. A win over the Boston Celtics could be just what they need to get right back on track!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Can Andrew Bynums knee hold up for the rest of the NBA Finals?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

Coming into the NBA Finals, many people believed that there was no clear favorite to win the NBA title. The Los Angeles Lakers may have a little edge in this series coming in, but most people agree that the Boston Celtics have just as much chance to win their second NBA title in three years as Kobe Bryant and company do of winning their second straight.

After the first four games of the NBA Finals, the series is dead even at 2-2 and the plot continues to thicken as it is anyone’s game and now it comes down to just a best of three series.

During game one of this series, the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers were able to establish themselves as the better of the two teams with some impressive play on both sides of the floor and dominant performances by Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant.

Bet the NBA Finals at Bodog Sportsbook

Even though the defending champs were able to take the early series lead, Rajon Rondo and company came out looking to prove a point in game two and as a result were able to beat the Lakers on their home floor in somewhat convincing fashion. Rondo and Ray Allen lead the way as the All-Star point guard had yet another triple-double and Allen went off for a career night with 32 points and an NBA record eight three pointers.

Despite the impressive performances by both Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo in game two, the defending champs knew they had to make an impression in game three and retake control of this series before it got out of hand.

Fortunately, Kobe Bryant and company did just that as they were able to beat the Boston Celtics on their home floor in the first of three straight games in Boston. This was a big game for the Lakers as it really set the tone for the defending champs as it will be tough for them to play in the devil’s den so to speak for before heading back to Los Angeles.

One of the biggest concerns for the Los Angeles Lakers in this series has been the health of two of their best players in reigning NBA Finals MVP Kobe Bryant and center Andrew Bynum. Even though Kobe has been banged up for the majority of the season, the Black Mamba has had some of his most impressive playoff performances and is holding up just fine so far.

Andrew Bynum on the other hand, is playing through some tremendous pain his knee which now has been drained twice. Unlike the last three years, Bynum has played refused to take time off and played up to the best of his ability, but as the NBA Finals continues he has really struggled and the debate on whether to keep him out rages on.

The one thing that Andrew Bynum brings to the table against the Boston Celtics is his length as he is a force to be reckoned with in the paint and at times a real problem for Kevin Garnett and company around the basket.

Even though Bynum’s body was able to hold up in the game four loss to the Celtics, he knee is not getting any better, in fact it is getting progressively worse, but Phil Jackson is sticking with him as long as he is will to play through the obvious pain.