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Lakers take on Celtics in NBA finals

Kobe Bryant is hoping to lead his team to victory over the Lakers and win his fifth NBA title
Kobe Bryant is hoping to lead his team to victory over the Lakers and win his fifth NBA title
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LA Lakers and Boston Celtics meet in NBA finals for 12th time
  • Lakers are the defending champions after beating Orlando last year
  • Celtics last won in 2008 when they beat Lakers and claimed their 17th NBA finals title
  • Lakers Kobe Bryant will be aiming to win his fifth NBA title

(CNN) -- Defending NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers will take on the Boston Celtics at their home arena on 3 June, in the first match of the season ending competition of the world's biggest basketball league.

The best-of seven match series sees the winners of the Western basketball conference taking on the winners of the Eastern conference. Home advantage means the first two matches will be played in LA, as will the last two if the contest goes the distance.

It will be the 12th time the rival clubs have met in the finals, with the New England side leading the head-to-head 9-2 over their Californian opponents.

Their last showdown in the finals was back in 2008 when the Celtics clinched a record-breaking 17th title, but it was the Lakers who defeated Orlando to become champions last season for the 15th time.

Boston's team will include veteran players Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierre and Ray Allen, who were all part of the victorious 2008 team.

It should be epic. This is going to be as tough as you get on a basketball court.
--Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls
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The Celtics will also be looking to the fast-paced 24-year-old point guard Rajon Rondo, as they attempt to increase their winning margin over the Lakers.

The Lakers will be led by 31-year-old shooting guard Kobe Bryant, who is aiming to win the NBA title for the fifth time in his career.

Spanish center Pau Gasol, who took his national side to victory at the European championships last year, will also be a key player for the LA team.

However, there are concerns for Andrew Bynum who after struggling with injury problems all season had fluid drained from his right knee on Sunday.

But Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng believes the Lakers still have the advantage over the Celtics this time around.

"I'm tipping the Lakers just because Kobe Bryant is such a match winner and big-game player," Deng, whose team lost to Cleveland in the first round of playoffs, told British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

"One thing for sure is that you always get the best two teams in the NBA finals. You don't arrive at the finals by accident. Yet again the Lakers and the Celtics are there because they are the best.

"It should be epic. This is going to be as tough as you get on a basketball court."