2009 NBA Finals Preview

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At this time last year, the Los Angeles Lakers were desperate for a player who could fill the hole left by Andrew Bynum's injury. Miraculously, they negotiated for All-Star Pau Gasol. Their season took off, and soon the Lakers were sitting on top of the Western Conference. After easily handling all competitors in the west, the Lakers finally lost the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics. The whole team was then accused of being too 'soft'. This year, the Lakers have the last laugh.

Again, Bynum goes down with an injury midseason after helping the Lakers soar to the best record in the NBA. Fans were prepared for the same results this year. However, when Bynum announced he would return just in time for the playoffs, the spirit of his team skyrocketed. The Lakers are at 10-1 without Bynum, with wins over both the Celtics and the Cavaliers, title contenders in the east. Is there any doubt that the Lakers and the NBA Championship are going to be reunited for the first time since 2003?

Kobe Bryant showed the league that the Lakers are still the best without Bynum after scoring 61 points against the Knicks. Gasol made the Western All-Star team for the second time in his career, and Ariza might be the most underrated player in the NBA. Having a record of 46-10 doesn't hurt either. Boston and Cleveland might have to wait their turn for the championship. The Lakers are showing why they are the 2009 champions.





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