It seems like months ago when the Boston Celtics barely skimmed past the Atlanta Hawks, leaving doubters at every corner.
The Los Angeles Lakers, on the other hand, are the sexy pick. They had no such struggles against three very good teams in Denver, Utah and finally San Antonio, the defending champs.
The Celtics have only one semi-regular player with a world championship, and that's sixth man James Posey.
The Lakers have the league MVP in Kobe Bryant, who has been on three world championship teams.
The Celtics are from the East, which has been a punching bag, losing in the finals seven times in the last nine year, while the Lakers are from the West. Enough said.
A case can be made that the Lakers are not only the team to beat, but have everything in place for a romp.
But don't believe the hype. In fact, a closer look at the personalities and the key numbers, like opposing field goal percentages, and the Celtics look like the team to beat.
Here are 10 reasons why I believe the Celtics will win their 17th world championship:
1. Paul Pierce
I wouldn't suggest he is better than Kobe Bryant, but for this series he will eliminate the Kobe Advantage. Pierce has the most to gain or lose in this series. This is his day to shine, on the biggest stage, and finally get something he's always craved — his due.
That will come not only with a championship but an MVP performance.
Los Angeles is where he grew up as a youth. Boston is where he grew up as an adult.
You couldn't write a better script. Only a leading man, like Pierce, could make it happen.
Kobe will have average more points, probably in the high 20s maybe even the low 30s. But Pierce will be around the mid-20s, which will offset the MVP.