The (33-14) Los Angeles Lakers host the (35-11) Boston Celtics in a Sunday matinee game at the Staples Center. Both of these teams suffered bad losses on Friday night; Boston lost by 17 to the Suns and the Lakers lost by 5 to the Kings.
The Lakers looked lethargic, flat-footed and as if they needed a collective, B-12 shot. In actuality, both teams were looking ahead to this match-up. A rivalry renewed.
There is never a shortage of storylines when the Celtics and Lakers collide. This afternoon the Celtics return to the Staples Center for the first time this season, and the first time since losing in Game 7 of last year’s NBA Finals. This game will be an emotionally charged event.
Although the Lakers have to keep their emotions in check, live in the moment and play ball.
Despite what we saw on Friday, it is all about the defense for both teams. This is essentially a playoff game. The Celtics will try to be physical with the Lakers and take them out of their triangle offense and force the big players to be jump shooters.
Two of the Lakers three veteran forwards Pau Gasol, Ron Artest and Lamar Odom must have a major impact on the game. There is nothing in the rulebook that says that all three cannot step up and get involved.
The Lakers need to run their offense through Pau Gasol, he needs to win his match up with Kevin Garnett.
Unlike Friday’s game, the Lakers have to establish both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the painted area. The Lakers front line has to be physical, aggressive and attacking the basket whenever either player receives the ball on the inside. The Lakers will once again see a zone defense and need to be patient, get the ball into the middle and attack said zone.
For the Lakers, it is all about their defense, energy and execution. They. need to stop the dribble penetration of Rajon Rondo and keep him out of the painted area. Rondo leads the league in assists; he does an excellent job of setting up his teammates for high percentage shots.
The same formula applies, control the tempo, control the boards, dominate the painted area and out-work, out-hustle and out-play the Boston Celtics.
The Lakers have to rise to the occasion and match the intensity of the Celtics. I am looking forward to seeing the Purple and Gold play with passion on every possession.
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, R. Artest, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Celtics: R. Rondo, R. Allen, P. Pierce, K. Garnett, K. Perkins
Tip-off: 12:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: ABC
- Boston: ABC
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Boston: 850 WEEI (Sean Grande & Cedric Maxwell)
- Matt Barnes (Torn Lateral Meniscus, Right Knee) Out
- Theo Ratliff (Left Knee Surgery) Out
- Andrew Bynum (Hyper-extended Right Elbow/ Contusion to Ulnar Nerve) Probable
- Glen Davis (Strained Left Hamstring) Day-to-Day
- Paul Pierce (Bruised Right Knee) Day-to-Day
- Shaquille O’Neal (Sore Hip) Day-to-Day