LOS ANGELES - The Lakers, the top-seeded team in the Western Conference, and the Celtics, the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference, will play for the NBA championship starting Thursday in Boston.
It will be purple and gold against green and white, west versus east and youngsters battling veterans in a rekindling of the league's most storied rivalry.
"I think the right two teams are playing each other," Boston coach Doc Rivers said after the Lakers eliminated the San Antonio Spurs on Friday and the Celtics sent the Detroit Pistons on vacation Saturday.
The Lakers won the West in five games after finishing with the conference's best record during the regular season. The Celtics won the East in six games after finishing with the conference's top mark in the regular season.
The Lakers lost both regular-season games to the Celtics. Neither was close, but both were played before Jan. 1, before the season turned serious for each team and before the Lakers got Pau Gasol in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies on Feb.
So, which team has the advantage in the NBA Finals? Which team will add another title to its collection?
A closer look at the statistics seems to slightly favor the Lakers.
If the numbers are correct, then you can expect the Lakers to win for the 15th time in franchise history and the 10th time since relocating from Minneapolis for the 1960-61 season. They will be within one title of Boston's league record of 16.
Phil Jackson will win his 10th championship as a coach and break a deadlock with late Celtics coach Red Auerbach for the most titles in NBA history. Jackson has won three with the Lakers and six with the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls.
Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher will win their fourth titles with the Lakers in this decade and keep Boston's Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce without a championship season to put on their resumes.
If the numbers don't lie, the Lakers will improve to 3-9 against the Celtics in the finals.
The Lakers are the better scoring team in the playoffs, but the Celtics are better defensively. The Lakers are better at rebounding and have averaged more assists.
The Lakers have a better overall field-goal percentage, including from behind the 3-point arc, but the Celtics shoot a better percentage from the free-throw line.
The Lakers have better records at home and on the road and have played fewer games than the Celtics in the playoffs.
Here is a look at a few of the statistical matchups:
Scoring: The Lakers have averaged 105.9 points, the most of any team in the playoffs. They have given up 99.5 points, which is only good for 12th. The Celtics have averaged 91.6 points (11th) and given up 87.3 (first). The difference can be traced to the Lakers' willingness to step on the gas and the Celtics desire to play at a slower pace.
Rebounding: The Lakers are averaging 40.5 rebounds to 39.4 for the Celtics, which might come as a surprise to anyone who watched the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz dominate the backboards in the first two rounds of the Western Conference playoffs. The Lakers improved markedly against the Spurs in the next round, however.
Shooting: The Lakers have made 47.8 percent of their shots and 76.2 percent of their free throws. The Celtics are shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 78.4 from the line. The Lakers are shooting 38 percent on 3-pointers; the Celtics are shooting 33 percent, down significantly from 38.1 during the regular season.
Assists: The Lakers are averaging 21.3 assists and the Celtics are averaging 21.1.
Records: The Lakers are 12-3 in the playoffs, including 8-0 at home. The Celtics are 12-8, including 10-1 at home.