We just got one of those newfangled Keurig machines at home so that my wife can avoid one of her worst fears – the coffee pot in which she admittedly mangles everything – while on her forthcoming maternity leave. My only regret is that the child didn’t come a fortnight earlier so that he, like his brother in 2007, might be able to one day say he was around for a Boston championship in his first weeks on the planet.
In any case, the new coffee maker will indeed get lots of advance use over the course of the next two weeks, thanks to David Stern and the 9 p.m. starting times for the Celtics and Lakers in the NBA Finals, which should be played somewhere in between any LeBron business ESPN needs to plow through. Did you know he’s on Larry King tomorrow? Did you?
The only other thing I’d like to point out is that L.A. Times columnist Chris Dufresne used the phrase Kareem Abdul jabber in this context today in his piece about the one-sided rivalry between Boston and Los Angeles: “People can Kareem Abdul jabber about the Lakers trailing the Celtics only 17-15 in championships…”
That is all. Now, predictions from across the country:
Globe staff picks: Bob Ryan and Gary Washburn like the Celtics in 7, while Dan Shaughnessy and Julian Benbow pick the Celtics in 6. Christopher L. Gasper takes the Lakers in 7.
President Barack Obama: Lakers. “‘Boston surprised me. They gelled in the playoffs in a way that they hadn’t all through the season. (Rajon) Rondo’s become one of the best point guards in the league in no time. I mean, when he gets a real jump shot, he’s going to be unstoppable.
“But I’ve got to go with the Lakers again. I think (Pau) Gasol may be the best big man in the league right now. He’s different from Dwight Howard, but he’s (got) unbelievable footwork, speed, savvy. He’s playing magnificently. Kobe (Bryant) is the fiercest competitor in the league, and they’ve got what I continue to believe is the best coach in the NBA right now in Phil Jackson, so they’re going to be formidable, and I think it’ll be a tough series.
“Boston’s a veteran club, but the Lakers are looking pretty good.”
Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times: Lakers in 7.
Elliott Teaford, Los Angeles Daily News: Lakers in 7. “Today, Boston has a Big 4 rather than a Big 3. Bynum’s presence will be vital because he gives the Lakers another lengthy inside player that will create matchup problems for Boston. If his injury flares up or he is ineffective, it could damage the Lakers’ hopes. and boost Boston. But if Bynum can make a contribution, the Lakers should have enough to prevail in a tight series. Bryant has starred throughout the playoffs and is determined to lead his team to back-to-back titles.”
ESPN.com staff picks: Six out of 10 choose the Lakers.
Charley Rosen, Foxsports.com: Lakers in 6. “Boston’s defensive rotations will have to be impeccable, and Ray Allen will have to shoot the lights out for the Celtics to play on even terms with LA. Both possibilities are well within the realm of probability. But ultimately, there’s no getting past the reality that Kobe has both the will and the way to dominate the series, which is why the Lakers will triumph in six games.”
Sports Illustrated staff picks: Four out of six go with the Celtics. Writes Ian Thomsen, who picked the Celtics in 7 games: “The dynamic for each team has changed. The Lakers are experienced, confident and driven to avenge 2008, when they arrived at the Finals a year earlier than expected. But three years of togetherness have woven the Celtics into the league’s most cohesive team, with more big-time playmakers than any defense can stop — Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Rasheed Wallace are creators as well as scorers, and even Glen Davis has made the big playoff shot. If they apply teamwork to overcome Kobe Bryant’s hunger, then this will turn into one of the greatest Finals of all time.”
Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic: Celtics. “They the hottest team right now and rondo ballin.”
Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel: Lakers in 6. “Seriously, why would anybody pick against the defending champions when they have the benefit of having the best player on the floor and one of the most cold-blooded champions in history? Everybody keeps waiting for Kobe to slow down, but he is enjoying one of the best postseasons of his career. Kobe has scored 30 points or more in 10 of the last 11 games. In the Western Conference finals against Phoenix, he averaged 33.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 8.3 assists and made 52.1 percent of his shots.”
Yahoo! Sports staff picks: Adrian Wojnarowski, Marc J. Spears, and Johnny Ludden all pick the Lakers in 7.
Sean Deveney, The Sporting News: Celtics in 6. “The Lakers? advantages over most teams are clear ? they have a serious size edge and they have Kobe Bryant. But the Celtics are a bit different because their starting front line (Garnett and Kendrick Perkins) is capable, and the bigs on their bench (Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis) can hold their own. The team?s offense is diversified and, in a pinch, Pierce can at least come close to keeping pace with Bryant . Boston has an edge with Rondo?s speed, finishing ability and decision-making, and it will be hard for the Lakers to find an answer for that. The 2-3-2 format certainly favors L.A., and that could make a difference in the end. But Boston has been very good on the road and won?t be intimidated by the Staples Center.”
Kurt Kragthorpe, Salt Lake City Tribune: Lakers in 7. “This should be a terrific series, whether Utahns can allow themselves to watch or not. The Lakers have not lost a home game in the playoffs and have a knack for winning in the end, but they also have not faced a defense like Boston’s.”
Palm Beach Post staff picks: Tom D’Angelo and Dave George pick the Celtics. Greg Stoda takes the Lakers. Writes D’Angelo: “The Lakers have breezed through the defenseless West on their way to the Finals. The Celtics have taken care of Dwyane Wade’s Heat, LeBron James’ Cavs and Dwight Howard’s Magic. Next on their list is Kobe Bryant’s Lakers.”
Philadelphia Daily News staff picks: Lakers across the board.
This guy’s pick: Celtics in 6. Aside from all the stats and matchups, the fact remains that the Celtics’ Big 3 has not lost a playoff series when healthy. That’s all you need to know.