Lakers vs. Celtics; not much more needs to be said toss up the ball and let’s go at it. This is a game that the Lakers have had circled on their calendar the moment the schedule came out.
This game will be played with playoff intensity and the Lakers need to play with a sense of urgency on defense and contest every shot & hit the boards hard.
This isn’t just another regular season game; it is never just a game when these two teams meet. This game will be an excellent measuring stick for the Lakers. The Lakers beat the Celtics 92-83 on Christmas Day 2008, aided by a late scoring surge from Gasol.
Pau Gasol has averaged 31 points per game since Bynum’s injury; the Lakers need his scoring. He also needs to continue to attack the basket. The Lakers will raise their level of play and everyone needs to contribute. Motivated by the humiliation of game six of the Finals the Lakers need to go into this game with an ‘Us against the world’ attitude and take it right to the Celtics.
NBA games come down to adjustments, on Christmas day the Celtics decided to double-team Kobe Bryant which wasn’t a surprise and happens frequently but what was a surprise was who Boston decided to leave wide open to help on the double team – Pau Gasol, who went to the front of rim and made them pay.
The Lakers need to get in transition & score quick baskets prior to the Celtics setting up their half court defense.
The Lakers need to use excellent ball movement and player movement & execute their offense. A staple in the Celtics defense is when Kobe has the ball on either the left or right side of the court they’ll have three defenders between him and the basket. When the double team comes, Kobe’s teammates need to be prepared to knock down the open shots because the pass will be there.
The Lakers will need to make adjustments and I would love to see a lineup that includes Kobe & Trevor in the back court and D.J. Mbenga playing center and being a physical presence against Kendrick Perkins or Kevin Garnett early in the game.
Look for Kobe catching the ball at the mid-post, isolated with his four teammates on the other side of the court causing Boston to send a second defender. The second unit has to be a factor.
The team has a size advantage with their taller front line and will win by controlling the tempo, glass, stopping dribble penetration and rotating out to three point shooters.
Tipoff: 5:00 PM PST
- Los Angeles: TNT (Marv Albert & Doug Collins)
- Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Boston: WEEI 850 AM(Sean Grande & Cedric Maxwell)
- Andrew Bynum (Knee)
- Kevin Garnett (Flu)
- Brian Scalabrine (Concussion)