Celtics, Lakers completely different from 2010 NBA Finals

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Celtics, Lakers completely different from 2010 NBA Finals

It was only three seasons ago that the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers faced off in a heated Game 7 NBA Finals battle, another chapter in their storied rivalry.

The Lakers captured the trophy in their building, and both teams looked poised to contend again as they left the Staples Center that night.

On Thursday, two very different Celtics and Lakers team will take the court at TD Garden. After years of fighting for homecourt advantage, both clubs are fighting for the playoffs.

The Celtics (25-23) are ranked eighth in the East while the Lakers (23-26) are tenth in the West. Both teams are currently on winning streaks, but both have also struggled with consistency, establishing chemistry with new pieces, and being hit with injuries.

The most glaring difference is not only how the players are performing on the court, but who is on the court. Take a look at how the current Celtics and Lakers teams differ from the squads that fought for it all in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals.

THEN: June 17, 2010

Celtics
Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace

Bench: Glen Davis, Tony Allen, Nate Robinson, Brian Scalabrine

DNP: (coachs decision): Marquis Daniels, Michael Finley, Shelden Williams

Lakers
Starters: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum

Bench: Lamar Odom, Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, Shannon Brown, Josh Powell

DNP: (coachs decision): D.J. Mbenga, Luke Walton

Now: February 7, 2013

Celtics

Still on the Celtics: Garnett, Pierce, Rondo

Still in the NBA: R. Allen (Miami Heat), T. Allen (Memphis Grizzlies), Daniels (Milwaukee Bucks), Davis (Orlando Magic), Robinson (Chicago Bulls), Wallace (New York Knicks)

Out of the NBA: Finley, Scalabrine, Williams

Lakers

Still on the Lakers: Bryant, Gasol, World Peace

Still in the NBA: Brown (Phoenix Suns), Andrew Bynum (Philadelphia 76ers), Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Clippers), Luke Walton (Cleveland Cavaliers)

Out of the NBA: Farmar, Fisher, Mbenga, Powell, Vujacic

Of the six remaining Celtics and Lakers from the 2010 NBA Finals, only four of them will suit up Thursday. Gasol (plantar fascia tear) and Rondo (out for the season, torn ACL) will not.

Six of the current Celtics and Lakers were not in the NBA in 2010. Avery Bradley and Devin Ebanks were drafted just weeks after Game 7, Darius Morris joined the league in 2011, and Fab Melo, Jared Sullinger (out for the season, back) and Robert Sacre were drafted last summer.

At the close of the 2010 NBA season, Garnett had recorded over 22,200 career points. Entering Thursday's game, he is only six shy of 25,000.

Wallace started Game 7 in place of Kendrick Perkins, who injured his knee in Game 6. Perkins currently plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

BOSTON -- On more than one occasion Monday night, the Boston Celtics were a discombobulated bunch with some players thinking they were running one play, while others were thinking the play called was something totally different.
 
You see that stuff in the preseason and to a certain extent in the regular season for a lot of teams. It is in those moments that we’re reminded that this Boston Celtics team is a work in progress on so many levels.
 
Because of that, we all need to hit the pause button when talking about them as a team inching closer towards Eastern Conference supremacy.
 
After the first month of the season, they have yet to show that they are going to be better than last season’s 48-win ball club.
 
The big problem a year ago was the offense bogging down and for the most part, not making shots. This year, it’s the team’s defense that has let them down on many nights.
 
And with that comes a sobering reminder this crew is good, but at best are maybe top-five in the East.
 
As a team on the rise, beating teams you’re not supposed to has to happen with some semblance of regularity.
 
There were only three teams on the Celtics’ docket this season thus far that they should have been beaten by without there being any argument: Golden State, San Antonio and Cleveland.
 
They were beaten in all three, two of which (Golden State and Cleveland) had final scores that did not indicate the level of dominance they had over the Celtics.
 
The average margin of defeat in the three games was 9.3 points, but two of them (San Antonio and Golden State) were at the TD Garden, which is supposed to be the equalizer for upset-minded teams.
 
But in each game, Boston put up a decent fight only to fail to emerge victorious.
 
The struggles against the upper echelon teams of the NBA has nothing to do with not having a superstar or a great rebounder or any of the kazillion reasons/excuses offered up as to why they’re not better.
 
It’s hunger.
 
It’s effort.
 
It’s about being blinded by the internet clicks that tout them as one of the best teams in the East, and them not seeing the danger that comes with embracing all that patting on the back.
 
It makes you soft.
 
It makes you fat and happy.
 
And maybe most significant, it creates a false sense of arrival before you’ve left the tarmac.
 
That’s where the Boston Celtics are right now: a team that seems to have forgotten why they were the team nobody wanted to play last year.
 
It wasn’t that teams feared playing them. It was the fact that they knew playing the Celtics would be tough, and it would force them to play a lot closer to their full potential than they were used to if they wanted to win.
 
It was because everyone knew that to beat the Celtics, you don’t have a choice but to play hard because you damn well knew they would.
 
Not anymore.
 
They bring that toughness to the game in small doses, like an intra-venous drip full of hope and promise, providing just enough to life to keep their fans optimistic but not nearly enough to kill the noise of their haters and critics.
 
And while the season is still young, the Celtics need to start racking up some quality wins.
 
Right now, their most impressive win is a toss-up between beating Charlotte 104-98 on Oct. 29, or a 94-92 win at Detroit on Nov. 19.
 
Boston plays at Orlando on Wednesday, a team that’s likely to be back in the lottery again. But after that, they travel back to Boston where they’ll host Toronto -- a game that they desperately need to not only to pad their win total but also provide a much-needed boost of energy and confidence going forward.

The Celtics have to find that hunger, that collective desire that we’ve seen in the past which has propelled them to greater heights than we’ve seen thus far.
 
Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford… you can go down the roster and the mission for all of them has to be the same: play harder, for longer, and be smarter about it, because this team has too much collective talent to be just three games above .500.
 
At 12-9, Boston is third in the East and trail conference-leading Cleveland by three games for the best record in the conference. But then you look at the teams behind the Celtics and realize that they’re only two games out of having the ninth-best record in the East.
 
It speaks in part to the season still being in its infancy stage. But it’s also telling as to how Boston does not have a huge margin of error when it comes to losing winnable games.
 
And as we’ve seen thus far, the Celtics can play with any team in the NBA and hold their own.
 
But beating them is a totally different narrative that this squad has yet to write.