Fighting words: NBA finals

Phillipe Craig: Kobe and LeBron sittin’ in a tree

Truth be told, no team in this year’s playoffs has any real chance against the Cavaliers or Lakers unless LeBron or Kobe suffer an injury. Even then, they might just get pushed to a couple of Game 7’s.

Kobe and his teammates are just too hungry. Last year left them with a bad taste in their mouth and they have been focused on getting back and redeeming themselves. Now, they have a healthier and more experienced Andrew Bynum. That should be a huge advantage over any other big man in the West, except Yao.

LeBron has taken his game to another level and wants to make amends for getting swept by the Spurs in 2007. He has some nice pieces around him and has become adept at getting the most out of them. Without Boston looming down the road, he knows this is his best chance.

Throw in the fact that the NBA and ABC probably want this matchup, and you have to know it’s coming. Get ready and enjoy!

Mario Trinidad: K-I-S-S-I-N-G

I agree with Phillipe, for the most part. Kobe and LeBron will meet in the finals this year.’

Both players have a point to prove to every fan, team and commentator. These guys are hungry for a title and won’t stop until they get one.

LeBron has to prove to everyone that he is one of the greatest players of all time. Without a ring, he is just another player. Karl Malone and Reggie Miller are some of the greatest players in NBA history, but they are always remembered as guys who never won a championship.’

Kobe has it all. He has three rings, a gold medal, a slam dunk championship and MVP trophy. The only thing that he’s been criticized for is his inability to win a ring without Shaq. I think this is his year to do it.

Phillipe, it’s ridiculous to say Bynum has an advantage over any man in the West but Yao. Bynum is back and it appears he is rested enough to take down any center.

Keith Cordero Jr.:’ Rockets to give Lakers a battle

The Eastern Conference belongs to the Cavaliers. LeBron James and company should roll into the NBA Finals. The Celtics don’t have Kevin Garnett and are struggling with the Bulls, and Orlando hasn’t played well lately.

Cleveland won 66 games this year and it has looked impressive against a Detroit team that struggled all season, finishing the season 39-43.

The Lakers will find trouble in the second round against the Houston Rockets. Yes, I said the Rockets, assuming they defeat Portland in the first round. Defensive stoppers Ron Artest and Shane Battier should slow down Kobe Bryant.

The Rockets always play the Lakers tough. With Yao Ming on fire, look for the Rockets to give the Lakers all they can handle. I’m not picking the Rockets to win, but the Lakers will be exhausted going into the Western Conference Finals.

Judge Dredd: Man crushes should be against the law

It isn’t exactly accurate to say the Lakers and Cavaliers are absolute locks to meet each other in the Finals. Nothing is set in stone, especially in a sport that is determined by matchups, and hot and cold streaks.

The team that matches up best against the Cavaliers is the Hawks. They are the most athletic and well-rounded team in the conference, receiving contributions from each of their starters. They defend the paint and could force Cleveland to run a little more than it wants to.’

The Lakers pose tough matchups for all of their potential opponents, but they are by no means juggernauts. Judge Dredd could see their potential series against the Rockets going to six or seven games. Houston’s post game and defense could pose problems, and if Kobe isn’t feeling it every night, the Lakers could find themselves overmatched.’

Judge Dredd disqualifies Phillipe and Mario for letting their giant man-crushes on Kobe and LeBron get in the way of their judgment. There is no room for man-crushes in Fighting Words.

Verdict: Keith Wins.

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