The (36-11) Los Angeles Lakers are in Boston to face the (29-15) Celtics.
It will be billed as a rivalry renewed. There’s no love lost in this game and make no mistake, this is a must-win game. Lakers need to approach this as a playoff game.
The Lakers are on a 3-game winning streak, 4-2 on this road trip and 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Celtics aren’t playing good basketball and are on a soon to expand two-game losing streak.
As we all know this is a marquee match-up in the NBA; it is also one of two games that the Lakers circle on the calendar every year the schedule is released.
This is the 47th game of the season and both teams have questions that need to be answered. The questions for the Lakers would be their health, bench scoring, and offensive rebounding. There’s a litany of questions for the Celtics; the main one, is this team too old to contend?
This is a game that the coaching staff won’t have to motivate the players; everyone knows what’s at stake — this game is a measuring stick for both teams. As usual Boston will attempt to be the more physical team and attempt to out-muscle Los Angeles, they must be aware that their opponent will use this tactic and need to be prepared for it.
The Lakers are a rhythm team, that are currently playing in a good rhythm. The frontline needs to be aggressive and continuously attack the rim. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom need to join Kobe Bryant and have a major impact on the outcome of today’s game.
Kobe is 47 points shy of being the Lakers all-time leading scorer, the only question is when it will happen. No one will have a problem seeing it happen today, but I want to see Kobe make multiple trips to the free-throw line.
Some members of the media on the east coast, will state that Boston is a Championship contender and that everything will miraculously come together by the end season. I don’t see it that way, I’m a realist and after seeing Rashard Lewis of the Orlando Magic blow by Kevin Garnett like he was nailed to the floor, tells me that Garnett’s knee isn’t sound after being out for an extended period of time. This also lets you know that they’re not the same team. The team’s defense has faltered, their rebounds, and points are down.
The Celtics rely on the three point shot and have several players that can get hot shooting behind the arc in Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Eddie House and Rasheed Wallace. Lakers needs to challenge every shot and not let anyone get hot, so the Celtics can’t ride the hot hand and defend out to the three point line. The Lakers have to take care of the ball, play defense without fouling and control the glass.
Securing a victory will take a total team effort, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown have to limit the impact of Rajon Rondo and keep him out of the painted area. The Lakers need to play with high energy and outwork this team.
Tip-off: 12:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: ABC
- Boston: ABC
- Los Angeles: ESPN 710 AM (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Boston: 850 WEEI (Sean Grande & Cedric Maxwell)
- Sasha Vujacic (Strained Right Hamstring)
- SG Marquis Daniels (Thumb) Out
- SG J.R. Giddens (Knee)