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Celtics, Lakers set to revisit history
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It may be 2008, but the National Basketball Association Finals have a decided 1980's feel this time around.

With a rich history to draw from, two of the game's greatest franchises, the Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, square off in the NBA Finals, which begin Thursday in Boston.

"The crazy thing is I grew up watching Boston against Los Angeles playoff series," said Boston forward Paul Pierce.

"And it's ironic, being a Celtic, now you're playing against the Lakers in the Finals. As a kid, I hated the Celtics.

"I'm going back home to play against my team that I grew up watching. It's a dream come true, man, just thinking about it.

"I think that rivalry really revolutionized the game of basketball, and now I'm a part of it."

While it is not Magic versus Bird, each team has its own cast of stars who will write a new chapter in the renewed rivalry.

Boston gets most of its offense from its big three - Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. They combined to score 60 points in the Celtics' 89-81 series-clinching win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday.

Allen had 17 points and Garnett added 16 points for Boston which has not met the Lakers in the Finals since their last trip to the league's showcase event in 1987.

"The Lakers won the West and we won the East and now we get to play each other. That's the way it should be," Boston coach Doc Rivers said.

The Celtics have gone 10-1 at home in the playoffs but are just 2-7 away from the TD Banknorth Garden.

Home-court advantage in the Finals goes to the Celtics, who are 2-0 against the Lakers this season.

Boston will host the first two games before the series shifts to Los Angeles for the next three and if necessary Games 6 and 7 back in Boston.

Garnett is making his first appearance in the Finals in his 12th season.

"Right now, it's a good feeling," Garnett said. "It probably hasn't hit me yet."

Detroit coach Flip Saunders coached Garnett when the two were part of the Minnesota Timberwolves organization. Saunders is happy for his former star player.

"I always said he happened to be a great player that just never happened to have a ring," Saunders said. "To get to the finals, I'm sure it's something, that's all he ever talked about.

"But I'm sure he's not satisfied with that. He wants to win a championship, too."

Garnett has fond memories of Celtics-Lakers games as a kid.

"I used to watch on Sunday with that big plate of food in front of me, watching the Lakers and Celtics play on Sunday," Garnett said. "I remember it like it was yesterday.

"Mom telling me, 'Don't get too close to the TV, it'll kill your eyes.' I'm looking forward to this."

The Lakers, with a week off before the Finals start Thursday, will resume workouts on Sunday.

The Lakers advanced by beating the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in five games in the semifinals.

If he was a betting man, which he is not, Spurs Manu Ginobili might pick the Celtics to win the finals.

"They (Lakers) are a great team, but I don't have the feeling that they are way better - either than us, New Orleans or Utah," said Ginobili, who played with a sprained left ankle in the semifinals.

"I mean, they made it to the Finals because they deserve it, but I don't have that feeling that they were so much superior.

"But we have to give them credit. They played great, especially down the stretch, when we fell a couple times. And so they are the ones that made it."

(AFP via China Daily June 3, 2008)

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