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Tuesday's question: Which teams will be playing in the NBA Finals this season?

January 19, 2010 |  2:10 pm

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.

Barry Stavro, Los Angeles Times
At the halfway point, which teams will be playing in the NBA Finals and who will challenge them from getting there?
Lakerslogo The Lakers against — pick one: Cleveland, Boston, Orlando or Atlanta.
In the West there’s no team big enough or deep enough to challenge the Lakers.
In the East, each of the elite teams have worries.
In Boston, its three stars are aging. Kevin Garnett’s surgically repaired knee has kept him sidelined since December, at 34 Ray Allen’s three-point shooting is down, and Paul Pierce has slowed half a step.
Orlando remade their team, but the new look Magic seem to be mailing it in, having lost 11 of their last 20 games.
Atlanta’s athletic, but small, lineup might leave them as prey in a playoff series.
As for the Cavs, LeBron James is casting his spell once again over a marginally improved lineup, with Shaq instead of Ilgauskas, but they are still quite slow.
Whichever team emerges from this scrum in East, the Lakers will be waiting. It’s hard to imagine any team beating the Lakers, unless Kobe is taken away in an ambulance.


Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun Sentinel

    While the favorable home schedule certainly has inflated the Lakers' record, when Pau Gasol is healthy and Kobe Bryant is heathy-ish, there appears to be little stopping L.A. in the West. If there is a challenge mounted in the West, keep an eye on the Mavericks, who, when they're playing well, can look as good as anyone in the league.
   As for the East, the Cavaliers are in the process of mounting a subtle breakaway, amid the recent uneven play of the Magic and Celtics. Despite much in the way of a supporting cast, LeBron appears up to the heavy lifting. When healthy, Boston sets up as Cleveland's prime challenger in the East, but there just haven't been that many days recently when the Celtics can make that claim.

K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune

The Lakers and Celtics will make the NBA league office extremely happy and spike ratings by playing in the NBA Finals. Though the Lakers have shown recent signs of vulnerability, they're still the deepest team. They also are the only team with Kobe Bryant. Celtics coach Doc Rivers will be smart with Kevin Garnett to save him for a tough playoff run past the Magic and Cavaliers. The Celtics' defense is just too tough. Denver's serious homecourt advantage allows them to scare the Lakers in the conference finals. But that's it.