It’s Thursday February 9, 2012 and the (14-11) Los Angeles Lakers have traveled to Boston to square off against the (14-10) Celtics in basketball’s best rivalry. Tonight’s match up is a historic rivalry renewed at the TD Banknorth Garden.
There is never a shortage of storylines when the Celtics and Lakers collide. These two storied franchises are synonymous with NBA history seeing as both franchises have combined to win more than half of all the NBA championships.
However, tonight’s contest does not seem to possess its normal buzz. The Celtics stumbled out of the starting gate posting a 5-9 mark, but have righted the ship; Boston has gone 10-2 since their slow start. Boston currently ranks as the best defensive team in the league allowing 86.5 points per game.
The Lakers split their last two season series (1-1) after sweeping the 2008-2009 series. The Lakers are 6-4 in their last 10 regular season games in Boston, have won their last three straight at TD Banknorth Garden and are 5-1 in their last six meetings in Boston. The Celtics are playing their best basketball of the season and have put together a five-game winning streak.
The Lakers are close to a turnaround, but have not played a complete game and now have a 3-9 road record. The Lakers are looking to snap a two-game losing skid. This game will be an emotionally charged event.
Although the Lakers have to keep their emotions in check, live in the moment, play smart basketball, get a solid contribution from everyone in a purple and gold jersey and execute. The Lakers have to do a better job of moving the basketball and moving bodies to avoid scoring draughts, like the one that occurred in the late game collapse in Philadelphia when the Lakers found a way to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.
This is essentially a playoff game that will come down to half court execution and defensive stops. The Celtics will try to be physical with the Lakers and take them out of their offense and force the big players to be jump shooters. The Lakers front line Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol, have to be play big be physical, aggressive and attack the basket and finish whenever receiving the ball in the post.
The Lakers will once again see a zone defense and need to analyze it to decipher what type of zone it is, be patient, and get the ball to one of their big players to break the zone, but take the first open good percentage shot. The Lakers still have to get the ball inside and attack said zone and then crash the offensive boards. The Lakers need to treat every shot as a miss and collectively attack the boards.
The Lakers have to avoid the temptation of shooting jump shots and continue to move the ball to find a high percentage shot going to the basket. The Lakers have to run their offense through the post. Don’t be surprised to see Kobe Bryant in the post tonight. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol need multiple touches in the painted area to affect the outcome of this game.