by Marcel Mutoni

In reality, only five days have passed since the last NBA Playoff game was played. But it feels like so much longer. And it doesn’t help that ESPN Classic and NBA TV have been running classic Lakers/Celtics games non-stop for the last week; the nostalgia has been suffocating to say the least.

Tonight can’t get here soon enough.

Finally, it is here. Game 1 of the Finals. In Boston is where things tip off, a building in which the Celtics have been nearly invincible for most of the year. The best that LA can hope for, is to head back home with a split. And tonight – with all of the hoopla, the nerves, and the rust on both sides – is their best chance to steal a game.

Since both teams have been coy about the matchups, we’ll get our first true taste of which battles to keep an eye on as the series progresses.

Can Ray Allen give Kobe problems, and make him work on the defensive end? How big a nightmare will KG be for the Lakers’ frontline? Can Rondo handle the pressure of the Finals, and will Derek Fisher take advantage of his opponent’s inexperience? Will the Doc Rivers/Phil Jackson “matchup” determine things?

This evening, some of those questions will be answered.

And so, at last, it begins. Lakers vs. Celtics, in the NBA Finals. Again. Getcha popcorn ready.