The Celtics no doubt still have last June's NBA Finals showdown with the Lakers fresh in their minds, and that being the case, they remember the dominating storyline — it was all about the big men. Whoever won the rebounding battle won the war.
When the C's take on the Lakers on Thursday night at the TD Garden, they'll have a depleted corps of big men due to injuries. Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal and Semih Erden, their three backup centers, will all be out of commission. That puts the burden on Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins and sixth man Glen Davis to carry the load on the glass.
Those three will clash with the Lakers' triplet towers of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. Whoever can best crash those boards will have a distinct advantage.
Meanwhile, there's also the small matter of Ray Allen matching up with Kobe Bryant as he searches for his record-breaking 2,561st 3-pointer. Another key story to watch, in case you'd forgotten.
Here's the lineup card for C's-Lakers:
Rajon Rondo, PG
Ray Allen, SG
Paul Pierce, SF
Kevin Garnett, PF
Kendrick Perkins, C
Derek Fisher, PG
Kobe Bryant, SG
Ron Artest, SF
Pau Gasol, PF
Andrew Bynum, C