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Looking Ahead

December 30, 2007

The Lakers and Celtics have played every season for the last 20 years. It has just been a while since anyone noticed.

It has also been a while since an Eastern Conference team came west with its fame preceding it.

With the Celtics' deeds surpassing their hype, their arrival tonight is more of an event than that of defending champion San Antonio, which has defended titles on and off for nine years.

Consequently, the Celtics now get everyone's best game.

"I didn't know if it was true or not," Boston Coach Doc Rivers said, "but when I saw the Pistons fired up to play us, I thought, 'Well, that's nice.'

"Even if we haven't done anything, if we have a quote, unquote, big game, I don't know if it's that, but it prepares you for later."

What the Lakers wouldn't give for a later. For the moment now will have to do.

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