Boston Celtics-L.A. Lakers Rivalry Denied in 2011, but They Will Be Back

It was destined to happen. The two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, finally on the cusp of tying their long-time rival. The storied franchise of the Boston Celtics, intent on avenging the loss last year.

This was to be settled in June on the grandest stage. It was the tiebreaker series, as each team won a championship at their nemesis’ expense. It was the matchup the NBA wanted, a series to settle it all for this generation. Nothing was going to get in the way.

The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers thought they could settle the score. A third NBA Finals series would give one team a 2-1 head-to-head edge. More importantly, either the Lakers would tie the Celtics for all-time titles with 17 or Boston would climb to 18, giving the Celts a little more breathing room.

Outside forces didn’t affect the teams as much as internal obstacles. The playoffs are into the second round and both teams are eliminated. The Lakers were embarrassed by the Dallas Mavericks in a sweep (while Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum embarrassed the franchise with late flagrant fouls). Boston was put away by Miami in five games.

The two most celebrated franchises in the NBA came up dramatically short of their planned destination as well thought out blueprints didn’t produce the desired results.

Los Angeles won two straight NBA Championships on the strength of Kobe Bryant and unmatched size from Pau Gasol, Bynum and Odom. There was no need to change a winning formula, just enhance it. A couple of roster changes should had been enough.

While the new faces haven’t played up to expectations, the hunger that was instrumental to the two titles evaporated. Twice against the Mavericks the Lakers entered the fourth quarter with the lead, only to blow it. Complacency set it.

Even head coach Phil Jackson wasn’t himself. Philosophical Phil became Jocular Jackson, quick to snap a barb towa...

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