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NBA Finals prediction roundup

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff June 5, 2008 09:48 AM

Bill Belichick would have a field day with this.

Maybe the Patriots coach will push the "no respect" card to Celtics players as a means of motivation from his courtside seat tonight at the Garden, where the Celtics and Lakers will finally tip off in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Most in the national media have glommed on to the Lakers machine in predicting the outcome of this series, lauding Kobe Bryant as the difference-maker, Phil Jackson's Zen more powerful than Red Auerbach's ghost. The most talked-about prognosis this week came from ESPN, where nine out of 10 experts picked the Lakers.

They're not alone. Across the country, the bulk of non-partisans are going with LA.

The picks:

  • Bob Ryan, Boston Globe: Celtics in 6. "Whichever team imposes its will most often on the other in this battle between an up-tempo team that lives in the 100s and a defensive-minded team that is as comfortable in the 80s as it is in triple figures will win this series. Go with the latter."
  • Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe: Celtics in 7. "National folk get blinded by the light when they see Kobe and the Lakers. Celtics "figured it out" in the Detroit series and should benefit from matchups and East Coast rollerball style. Wish Red had lived to see it."
  • Bill Walton: Celtics.
  • Charles Barkley: Lakers. "Take it from your favorite 'fat boy' TNT analyst: It is the Lakers who look really phat right now."
  • ESPN.com: Nine out of 10 pick the Lakers.
  • David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.: Lakers in 6. "Boston has proven to me that it is a dynamic and special team. The Celtics have improved as the playoffs evolved and will be tougher for the Lakers to beat than any of the three teams L.A. defeated out west to get to the Finals. The Celtics' will to win is formidable, and their team chemistry is superb. The Lakers appear to be better, on paper, but only slightly so. Winning a game in Boston is no tougher for L.A. than winning in Utah or San Antonio, which the Lakers did. But winning a game in L.A. would require Boston to play just a bit better than it has in previous road games. So I give the smallest of edges to the Lakers."
  • Mike Moreau, Scouts Inc.: Celtics in 6. "After slogging through the Eastern Conference playoffs in less-than-dominant fashion, the fact remains that the team with the best regular-season record is in the Finals with home-court advantage. Although the Lakers are a more formidable opponent than anyone in the East, the Celtics will be the toughest opponent the Lakers have faced. Boston has grown, matured and overcome adversity and doubts on their road to the Finals. They've won close games and passed the final test by breaking through on the road with a close-out win against the Pistons. The NBA's best defense will keep the Celtics in every game, and their strength in numbers will help them survive the best closer in the league."
  • CBS Sports: Three out of five pick the Lakers.
  • Stan McNeal, Sporting News: Lakers in 5. "Forget the Celtics' home-court advantage. Forget the Lakers' young and dynamic bench. Forget all the Finals experience of Bryant, Derek Fisher and Jackson. Forget the Celtics' league-leading defense. When all the issues have been hashed out, the one that matters most is this: Team with the best player wins."
  • Kenny Smith, Yahoo! Sports: Lakers in 6. "KG is MVP of the past. Kobe is the present."
  • Marc Berman, New York Post: Lakers in 6. "Too much Finals experience, too much Kobe, too much Zen."
  • Steve Dilbeck, Los Angeles Daily News: Celtics. "It's not that I expect the Lakers to be blown out or swept, though it could happen. It's just that right now, at this moment in time, the Celtics seem clearly better. I hope to be proven wrong, but doubt it."
  • EA Sports NBA Live: Lakers in 5.
  • Kurt Kragthorpe, Salt Lake City Tribune: Lakers. "Determining who would be the most deserving winner of the 2008 NBA Finals is tricky. Maybe 'least undeserving' is a better measurement, considering how so many of the key figures in this series recently joined their teams or wanted to be traded from them, in the case of the Lakers' Kobe Bryant. Even the executives being celebrated for assembling the rosters could more accurately be said to have had some of the key figures fall out of the sky right to them."
  • David Boyce, Kansas City Star: Lakers in 6. "All season Garnett, Pierce and Allen have played with a strong desire to win their first NBA title. It has led Boston to the best record in the regular season and it has gotten them to the NBA finals for the first time in their careers. But they will find out that the NBA finals is Kobe Bryant's world."
  • Benjamin Hochman, Denver Post: Lakers in 7.
  • Mike Monroe, San Antonio Express-News: Celtics in 7. "If Pierce can force the Lakers to change their defensive matchups, and especially if he can force Bryant into an energy-sapping defensive matchup, the Celtics' chances to win the series will be optimized."
  • Ken Berger, Newsday: Lakers in 6. "The Celtics are doomed if they do and doomed if they don't. If they commit multiple defenders to sealing off Bryant's path to the basket - as they did pretty successfully against LeBron James - then Bryant will find Gasol or Odom slashing for easy baskets or Fisher, Radmanovic or Vujacic for open jumpers. Pierce is the key to the entire series for Boston. If he can command attention and take pressure off Garnett, the Celtics can make it a long series. But they've played too many long series already, allowing themselves to be pushed to seven games by the Hawks and Cavs. Fatigue - and a dose of L.A. revenge - will come back to haunt them."
  • Charley Rosen, Foxsports.com: Lakers in 7. "Barring debilitating injuries to important players, and/or unusually inept officiating, this will be a highly competitive go-round - with the Lakers prevailing in a triple-overtime seventh game."
  • Our pick: Celtics in 7. Watching the high-flying Lakers on this playoff run in the West vs. the lingering concerns about the Celtics' scoring attack (begins with Ray, ends with Allen) should spark some amount of fear in every Bostonian. But the Celtics' dominance vs. the West in the regular season (22-5) can't be discounted, nor can their suffocating defense. Los Angeles' flashy offensive attack has it heavily regarded as the favorite by the national media, but…everybody now, "Defense wins…"

35 comments so far...
  1. Celtics will SWEEP! The big 3 are so hungry for a championship that I don't even see them losing one game.

    Posted by Bob Farias June 5, 08 11:17 AM
  1. I like the C's in 6 or 7 - Bob Farias, as much as I'd love it, you're out of your f-ing mind.

    Posted by John June 5, 08 11:55 AM
  1. SWEEP! Celtics were taken to 7 by a terrible Atlanta team. This means you either haven't watched the playoffs, know nothing about basketball or are just another blind superfan. I think you need to turn off ESPN, it is going to your head. Sure the evil 4 letters has tried to promote the hell out of the celtics all year, but their play on the court during the playoffs has been less than impressive. Take off the blinders, turn off the TV and take a sip of reality.

    Posted by BR in socal June 5, 08 12:21 PM
  1. Yeah, BR, because there's been a huge dearth of Lakers/Kobe stories on ESPN all year. Whatever. If you've watched the playoffs, you've seen the Celtics get stronger in every series and you've also seen them survive and never be down in any series yet. I think the Celtics will win, won't be surprised if they don't, and will be shocked if it's a sweep either way.

    Ken Berger is nuts if he thinks the five days off and the days off in between games isn't enough rest for the Celtics, despite the 20 games they've played this postseason.

    Posted by J-Bone June 5, 08 12:30 PM
  1. Lakers in 5

    Posted by Kobe "The Great" Bryant June 5, 08 12:47 PM
  1. The reality is the series starts tonite and all of us can enjoy the drama.

    I would say good luck - but that simply wouldn't be genuine. So, instead I will go with 'break a leg' as that would be closer to the truth ;).

    Remember, it is the players and coaches that really determine the outcome of the game and series. The rest of us can sit back and enjoy our favorite drink and be as obnoxious as we feel inclined to be.

    It's great to be back.

    Posted by LA Laker Fan June 5, 08 12:47 PM
  1. Perhaps I underestimate the value of the Lakers' supporting cast, but I see the Celtics suffocating D containing the Lakers offense, holding them under 100 in most games. When the Lakers don't score 100 in a game, their record is overwhelmingly negative. The Celts rarely give up 100 in a game.

    On the other end of the floor, I don't see the Lakers' big men containing KG. He's too strong, and too skilled a jump shooter or in the post for Gasol or Rad to handle. If Rondo moves the ball well, Ray shoots like he did in the regular season and Pierce plays to his capabilities, the Celts offense will overwhelm a middle-of-the-pack Lakers D. Celts in 6.

    Posted by Steve June 5, 08 12:49 PM
  1. Lakers in 5 or 6. Lakers are just too strong for anything the Celtics dish out!

    Posted by Unbiased Fan June 5, 08 01:00 PM
  1. Fair enough jbone. True, i think everyone (including people on this side) are sick of the kobe stories also. celtics might be getting better, but the lakers have been rolling for a while. tired of hearing people talk about sweep either way. hope it is a great series and the lakers win with kobe holding the MVP.

    Posted by BR in socal June 5, 08 01:07 PM
  1. Steve, that was a hell of alot of "ifs"

    And the referees determine the outcome of the game, the players can sometimes frustrate their efforts, but that is where the game is determined.

    It is all about ad revenue.

    The NBA should be shot like the lame nag that it is.

    Posted by NHL "Now thats a game" June 5, 08 01:21 PM
  1. Rebound and defend. The Lakers are going to learn that Eastern Conference basketball is physical, ugly, and disjointed. Having a soft front line will be their undoing.

    Celtics in 6

    Posted by Bill June 5, 08 01:37 PM
  1. LAKERS In 6

    only 6 words


    Posted by MARIO June 5, 08 01:44 PM
  1. The Celtics went to 7 with Atlanta and Cleveland. East coast basketball is inferior basketball. Utah is more physical and San Antonio plays better defense than the Smeltics. The Lakers bench is also far superior, and if Doc Rivers trys to rely too heavily on the starters, they will lose any ability to stop the Laker offense in crunch time. Lakers in 5

    Posted by Kobesbaby June 5, 08 02:33 PM
  1. Even Michael Jordan didn't win championships until the Bulls started playing great defense. No amount of Kobe's offensive skill will be enough to single-handedly defeat the best defensive team in the league this year.

    When all is said and done, I think "the team with best player wins" gets trumped by "defense wins championships" - Celtics in six.

    Posted by Adam June 5, 08 02:37 PM
  1. Kobe Bryant can not win the championship all by himself. If he can he would have done it by now. He needs a supporting case. Derek Fisher is older than any of the Big Three. Pau Gasol was on the only team worse than the Celtics last year. Lamar Odom does not even compare to KG. Even Bill Walton is picking the Celtics over his own son's team...

    I'm not saying that the Celtics will sweep. I think it will be a hard fought series that goes the distance. I am just sick and tired of all of the national media not giving the Celts any of the respect they deserve and giving Kobe Bryant way too much respect. The Stephen A. Smith interview almost made me vomit.

    At the very least, I'm glad that the series finally starts tonight so that we can all shut up and just watch the games. May the best team win.

    Posted by ryatc June 5, 08 02:38 PM
  1. With all the "Celtic D vs. Laker O" debate that's raged on through the media, I think that the Lakers Defense has been sorely overlooked.

    They have held their playoff opponents to 43.3% (versus 42.1% for Celtics). That, against the Nuggets, Jazz, and Spurs, which everyone would agree are better offensive teams than the Hawks, Cavs, and Pistons.

    So, look for the Lakers D to be every bit as strong as the Celtics'. Throw in a superior offense, and you have a recipe for the O'Brien!


    Posted by Jbo June 5, 08 02:54 PM
  1. Reasons why the Lakers will beat the Celtics:

    • The Lakers are a definition of a true team. They are a cohesive unit, a tight bond that can only be developed through growth, maturation and perseverance. They have fought together as a team, they have suffered defeat as a team and they have been gloriously victorious as a team. This team knows what it is like to go through extreme challenges and to come out of very difficult and adverse circumstances. These are valuable lessons that have given them strength and fortitude which can only be brought about through testing by fire. This is a family, a unit, a band of brothers that fight as one. The struggles they have endured is a testimony of their determination and resolve, an advantage that not even the Celtics big three can match.

    • FACT: The Celtics have faltered in the playoffs for everyone to see…the Lakers have overcome and overcome decisively.

    • FACT: We have a leader that has been established as the best NBA player in the league, the MVP, Kobe Bean Bryant…aka “The Black Mamba”. Kobe Bryant was brought to the City of Los Angeles by the best Laker player in history…Mr. Jerry West. Jerry knows what it is like to suffer the greatest defeats (6 times) by the hands of the Boston Celtics. Karma says…his suffering will be avenged by the greatest basketball player the world has ever seen.

    • Michael Jordan the greatest basketball player of our time (as of today) has symbolically passed the torch to Kobe Bryant to one day over take him as the best player in history.

    • Bottom line…the legacy of our leader (Kobe Bryant) overshadows any legacy Paul Pierce has established over the years with his Celtics…..it pales in comparison.

    • FACT: The Celtics is a patch work of veterans that have underachieved. Sure they are great players in their own right. But all have failed individually to get their team to the Finals…Kobe Bean Bryant has not.

    • The Celtics are built for a 2 to 3 year run, tops. But just as the San Antonio Spurs found out…age did catch up with them. The Lakers are a young and hungry team and they have been built to last a decade.

    • BELIEF. The Lakers already know and believe that they are the best team in the league. Not just better then the Celtics but better then everyone else. Why? Because they came in first place in the toughest conference through the most competitive season in league history. But most off all, they know they are the best team because they are still not at full strength. They know that once they have all their pieces together, they will be an unstoppable force…a force to be reckoned with for years to come. This season is a test for them to see how far they can go. Since they have already gotten this far (which no one had even predicted) why not go all the way. They know they can win. They believe it in their hearts and they have conceived it in their minds.

    • FACT: Who have the Boston Celtics defeated? Lebron James, Joe Johnson, Joe Smith, Al Horford, an injured Chauncy Billups and an injured Richard Hamilton and a no-show Rasheed Wallace (that was more in love with Kevin Garnett then playing basketball with an urgency)

    • FACT: The Lakers defeated...Alan Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin…a sweep of the Denver Nuggets.

    • FACT: The Lakers defeated Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and Carlos Boozer…the Utah Jazz, the team with the best home record.

    • FACT: The Lakers defeated Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Bruce Bowen and Robert Horry...the San Antonio Spurs…THE DFENDING WORLD CHAMPIONS.

    • FACT: The Atlanta Hawks would never have made it to the playoffs if they played in the Western Conference. It took the Boston Celtics seven games to defeat them…tisk tisk…shame shame.

    • FACT: Our coaching staff has a total of 59 rings. They have the experience, the knowledge and the understanding to play at this level. Boston Celtics coaching staff “0”/Zero rings, zero experience.

    • Sure you can stand on the past and relive old Celtics Glory…but this is not only a new decade nor a new century but this is a new millennium. Old things have passed away….behold all things become new.

    • FACT: Since arriving in Los Angeles from Minneapolis for the 1960-61 season, the Lakers have reached the NBA Finals 23 times in 47 seasons. To put it in perspective, the Lakers have pretty much played for the NBA title every other season during their stay in Los Angeles.

    • FACT: The Lakers are 12-3 in the playoffs, including 8-0 at home. The Celtics are 12-8, including 10-1 at home. The Lakers' 23 finals appearances since 1961 are the most championship appearances for any team in any major North American sport over the same time period. The Boston Celtics have reached the NBA Finals 15 times over that same stretch.

    • Bottom line…this Celtics are likened to a deer on the road with headlights shining through its eyes. They won’t know what hit’em.

    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 L.A. on 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. The Lakers are at their best when they're moving the ball from player to player rather than just dropping it into Bryant's lap. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich called them "probably the best passing team in the league."

    Records: The Lakers are 12-3 in the playoffs, including 8-0 at home. The Celtics are 12-8, including 10-1 at home. The Lakers have played five fewer games than the Celtics, who needed seven games to win each of their first two series.

    Posted by Lakerluv June 5, 08 03:08 PM
  1. Jeeezzz...are you Celtics fans that blind??? I know the Celtics look better on paper but why don't you compare true statistics. Kobe can't win it on his own and neither can KG. Here's a comparison and you tell me how much better they look:

    The Celtics "Big 3" combined postseason stats:

    55.8 points
    15.5 rebounds
    11 assists
    3.6 steals
    1.92 blocks

    The Lakers "fairly sizeable 3" combined postseason stats:

    64.3 points
    25.3 rebounds
    12.9 assists
    2.6 steals
    4.34 blocks

    Yeah. Now that I look at the numbers I can see it. That
    1 extra steal per game that the "Big 3" get will definitely
    be a huge advantage. I can't see how the "fairly sizeable 3"
    will overcome that, even with their 9 more points, 10 more
    rebounds, 2 more assists and 2 more blocks.

    Posted by LAKERS IN 5!!! June 5, 08 03:14 PM
  1. NHL, sure there are a lot of "ifs", that's what pre-game speculation is...a bunch of ifs. The only thing any of us are guaranteed is that there will be at least 4 games and a trophy handed out to the victor. Kobe could easily go "Lebron", and miss three quarters of his shots. Don't think that was an accident. That was a physical Celts D wearing down a weary one-man show. The reality is the Celts are a better TEAM, and that will win the series because of it.

    As an aside, if you hate the NBA so much, why the h-e-double-lockout-sticks are you commenting on a NBA Finals preview article? Stick to the frozen pond...

    Posted by Steve June 5, 08 03:21 PM
  1. I sure hope the Celtics win, and in a perfect world - win big.

    Kobe Bryant is a great player, but a horrible person (just ask Shaq, Phil Jackson, the girl in Colorado, probably his wife, or anyone else that has ever dealt with him outside of a game - they all hate him!). He already has won championships and I really hope he doesn't get another one.
    On the other hand KG is also a great player, but seems to be a good person. When he first got drafted by the T-wolves he would come into a restaurant where I worked for dinner quite often, he came by himself and would have dinner and a non-alcoholic fruity drink (he wasn't even 21 yet), his bill would be like $10 or $12, he would tip the server like $20 or 30, plus he would talk to people that would stop by to say hi, and he was always kind and respectful to everyone.
    I bet the same couldn't ever be said for Kobe, he's an arrogant jerk.

    Please celtics destroy the Lakers, and in particular beat Kobe!

    Posted by Cheach June 5, 08 03:54 PM
  1. How anyone can believe the Lakers are better than the celtics defies logic. Twice the Celtics hammered them in the regular season. Yes it was before they stole Pau Gasol, but it was with Bynum. The Lakers I think are better with Bynum than Gasol, because he is just a scorer and Bynum plays more on both ends. Sixty-six wins did not occur by accident and Posey will hopefully follow Bryant to the bathroom if need be. Either team can win, but the Celtics should in 6.

    Posted by Hammer June 5, 08 03:59 PM
  1. "Team with the best player wins"

    Umm...and where are Cavs and LeBron James now? I'm not saying that the Cavs and the Lakers are equivalent teams, or that Kobe and LeBron are equals--I'm just saying this is a ridiculous bottom line from an analyst. The logic doesn't even hold up this playoff season.

    Posted by Kristen June 5, 08 04:09 PM

  1. Kristen- totally agree. I have seen the "best player wins" argument 3 or 4 times in the media and think it is totally ridiculous.

    Go Green or Go Home. Cs in 6.

    Posted by toolatebutnotcomplaining June 5, 08 04:56 PM
  1. Celtic Fans/ Celtic Paper writers, say the Lakers can't handle the physical play of the Celts...I guarantee the Celtics do not play as physical as the Jazz and the Spurs, which we easily handled.

    I remember the same Celtic fans were chanting MVP, MVP for Kobe last season...Nice fans. Celtics #3 team in Boston... Lakers in 6!!!

    Posted by Vahe June 5, 08 04:59 PM
  1. Lakers in 6. The Celtics played the Lakers without Pau Gasol and Pau Gasol has revitalized Lamar Odoms play. The lakers w/ Pau would have matched the number of victories the Celtics had and Pau was injured for 9 games during that time
    Get ready for a series to remember.

    Posted by Philip Elizalde June 5, 08 06:02 PM
  1. I am a Celtics fan..always have been always will be. Kobe may be the greatest player in the game right now...but our Big 3 are the greatest team players. If I remember we did OK against the great Kobe Lakers this year and Paul Pierce is in a zone. Go Celtics. Beat LA

    Posted by Carly Zawada June 5, 08 07:04 PM
  1. Lakers in 5 :-) I believe, Kobe will bounce back.

    Posted by Vignesh June 6, 08 09:54 AM
  1. Ubuntu.

    Posted by Brian W. June 6, 08 12:53 PM
  1. First, sorry I missed this pre-game 1, but...........Wassup now 'Faker' fans....Kobe looked less than 'MVP" caliber missing almost 20 shots. just as i expected Pau reverted back to his shell-shocked Memphis persona and Lamarr "where r u" Odom...well...where was he?

    Sure we have been hearing all year how much better the Western Conf. is, but that is based on team records where the entire league plays no D and simply looks to score...very entertaining, but will not win you a championship. You gotta be able to grind-it-out and play with heart.....the Celtics in 5.....where is the heart for the 'Fakers'? I will take a 3 valve heart over a one vavle anyday.

    Posted by krush June 6, 08 02:42 PM
  1. Kobe sucked last night,
    Odom sucked last night
    Radmonovic sucked last night
    Farmar sucked last night
    Walton sucked last night

    that being said, Lakers will win this series in 6. Those 5 players listed aren't all going to have another bad night, thus LAKERS IN 6.

    Posted by Brandon S. June 6, 08 03:23 PM
  1. Bryant is an arrogant jerk as a person and absolutely selfish as a teammate and the Celtics are hungry and have shown they can overcome adversity and excel as a team. Celtics will definitely take it.

    Posted by Mario June 6, 08 10:47 PM

    Posted by SUNNY June 7, 08 09:40 PM
  1. I think what all you guys seem to be forgetting, yet is plainly clear, is the tough lesson that the Pats learned from the Giants. Forget all your stats, and all your garbage about the better player, defense, offense. End of the day, the team that wants it more WINS. And NO ONE wants this more than Paul Pierce. There is NO WAY he will lose.

    Again - learn from Superbowl 42. Everyone had the Pats to win (why wouldn't you?), yet the Giants wanted it more and came to not only play, but to WIN.

    The Garden staff better be ready to hang the banner...

    Posted by Anita June 8, 08 01:25 PM
  1. Wow...Doc needs to whine and cry about foul calls...did u see the blatant make-up for game 2. Atleast the Celtics went to the basket to earn fouls that were not called. The "Fakers" can not make that claim for their performance in gm 2 but the refs saw to it that the "It will be different in LA" comment from Phil came true (hmmm makes u wonder).

    One other note, why isnt the press making a big deal about the explosion of Sasha, girl hair, Vujacic? Doc should have disrespected him in his post game saying we will live with "Volvo" shooting the ball like Phil did to Powe...correct me if I am wrong, but aren't they both bench/role players? Powe has actually had many high scoring games and game winners. I have also seen Vujacic drain multiple 3's in a game. The LA bias is clear.

    Posted by Krush June 11, 08 01:47 PM
  1. Hello, I hate to say I told you so, but what are the soo called experts saying now about the better conference...East or West? It seems to me that the eastcoast Defensive style of play is the reason that the West looks soo good during the regular season..."The Eastern conf is the JV league" is what I heard all year...now what? So much for the highflying offense...D is what wins championships.

    Oh yeah, and I thought the "Fakers" had the better bench/role players...NOT...like the first team, they cant defend and don't seem to have the heart needed to grind it out and maintain/establish momentum. We might just get the sweetest father's Day gift every...Banner#17!

    Simply put......The C's are the better "Team".

    Posted by Krush June 13, 08 07:50 AM
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