Question of the day: How many games will it take the Lakers and Celtics to wrap up their conference series?
Reporters from around the Tribune family tackle the question of the day, then you get a chance to chime in and tell them why they are wrong.
Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel
Considering the Lakers have had lapses in each of their first two victories over the Suns, figure on one of those lapses getting the best of them as series shifts to Phoenix, before wrapping it up in five.
It's not that Kobe & Co. don't have enough to push through for a sweep. It's just that that's not how Phil Jackson's team has operated. Remember, it took a missed Jazz tip-in in Game 3 for the Lakers to position themselves for that sweep.
As for the East, the Magic's 3-pointers have to fall at some point, don't they?
The one thing about a Stan Van Gundy-coached team is that it will fight until there is no opportunity left to fight. An ensuing home win would not surprise, either, before a sixth-game ouster.
Updated at 9:19 a.m.
Barry Stavro, Los Angeles Times
Six for Boston, five for the Lakers.
Wednesday night Phoenix showed that if their threes fall and they get some quick dribble-drive scores that they can stay with the Lakers, at least for a while. When a team is down 2-0 and returns home, obviously Game 3 is probably their best chance to snare a win. The Lakers lost Game 3 to the Thunder on the road, and barely escaped with a win in Game 3 against the Jazz in Salt Lake. So, I'm picking the Suns to win Game 3 on Sunday before sliding off into their long summer.
As for the East, even fans in Boston had given up on the Celtics after their team lumbered through the end of the regular season with a 27-27 mark.
But during the playoffs their defensive rotations have been quick, opposing teams get few open looks, Kevin Garnett has revived, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen take turns having big games and now the Big 3 obviously defer to Rajon Rondo, who has been their best player all season.
The one common link, both in regular and postseason play, is the Celtics offense tends to dry up in the second half, presumably because of their age of their key players. So, Orlando might show enough to steal a game in Boston, then play tough at home in Game 5 and win another, before the Celtics give the Lakers and David Stern another dream match-up for the Finals.
Updated at 2:06 p.m.
K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune
The Lakers will defeat the Suns in five games. And the Celtics will sweep the Magic. This will set up the Lakers-Celtics Finals I predicted in the preseason---and only waffled on once.
The reason the Celtics won't waffle and will stunningly sweep the Magic is because The Big Three knows this is its last run and is all business. And somebody woke up Rasheed Wallace. And Rajon Rondo has revived his inclusion in the best point guard in the league debate.
The Suns have the ability to get silly hot at home and will do so in a pride victory. And then Kobe will enact his step-on-their-throat mentality to steal a road game before closing it out at home. Celtics-Lakers? That goes at least six.
Photo: Lakers foward Pau Gasol is congratulated by teammates on Wednesday at the Staples Center. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times.