CelticsLakers022013PR

Preview: Celtics vs. Lakers

It's anybody's guess why the Lakers (25-29) have yet to find that motivation to go out and lay everything on the floor to help themselves win games. The passing of the legendary Dr. Jerry Buss Monday morning could be that push they need to make a historical run in the remaining 28 games to make the playoffs. Laker fans are optimistic that their team will answer the bell now that the franchise had lost its leader.

However, we all know the Lakers can win games. It's how they win tonight against the hated Boston Celtics (28-25) that will tell the tale if this team truly believe in themselves that they have what it takes to rise for the challenge.

Like the Lakers, the Celtics spent much of the season trying to find themselves. They thought they finally did after stringing together 6 wins in the beginning of the new year but faltered again by dropping the very next 6 games. It wasn't until they found out that they had lost Rajon Rondo for the season that they came together and refused to let a huge loss dictate the rest of the year for them. They only lost twice since then.

Despite his injuries, Dwight Howard has been the hub of criticisms from the media and former Laker players. His heart as a competitor and pride as a Laker have been questioned repeatedly. Whether you support Howard or not, there's no doubt the success of the Lakers from this point forward hinges heavily on the type of player Dwight decides to be. If he accepts to be that defensive juggernaut that he was brought over to be, the sky is the limit for this team. If not, next summer is going to be an even bigger test for Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak without Dr. Buss.

The stage has been set for the Lakers tonight. All eyes are on them to see how they'll respond to not only the loss of their owner, but also to their worst performance of the season that ended in a 21-point loss in Boston. Their body language off the bat should reveal their collective mental approach to the game. But it's what they do on the floor that will truly expose them of what they are as a team.

Tonight is the final meeting in the regular season for both teams with the Lakers looking to even the season series at 1-1. The Celtics have not taken the season series from the Lakers since the 2007-08 season. The Lakers have not lost to Boston at home since Jan. 30, 2011.

Matchup of the Game

Paul Pierce vs. Metta World Peace: A lot of things worked against the Lakers in Boston but none bigger than what Pierce did to them. His 24 points didn't look that impressive, but it was when he scored and his aggressive play on offense that rallied his team behind him. It's very important for Metta to take the challenge of matching up with Pierce on the defensive end. He was non-existent in that game in Boston because he looked to shoot instead of playing defense.

Keys to the Game

> Team Attitude: Kobe Bryant doesn't need any fine-tuning when it comes to his fervor to win. It's up to his teammates to elevate theirs at his level that's been the difference all season long.

> Turnovers: If the Lakers bring intensity tonight, then that would mean they're clicking on both ends of the floor. However, that doesn't always translate to how they value possession of the ball for the entire game. They only committed 12 turnovers against the Celtics last time, but that was enough for them to lose the game. If the Lakers are to turn the season around, this is one of the biggest areas they have to improve.

> Get Howard Going Early: Right now, the Lakers have no time figuring out why Howard hasn't been a dominant force on defense on a consistent basis. But it's evident, and as Dwight has admitted numerous times this season, he tends to put forth better effort and energy on defense when the offense starts with him. This is actually a win-win scenario for the Lakers since they should get that D12 they traded Andrew Bynum for on defense while putting the pressure on Howard to dominate the paint every single game from now on because the Lakers are doing exactly what he wants them to do on offense.

Watch Out For

CELTICS: Jeff Green: His production on both baskets the last game made a huge impact on how that game ended for the Lakers. This guy has picked up the pace since the start of the season. For the year, he's averaging 10.5 points on 42.7% shooting from the field off the bench. But since the loss of Rondo, Green is averaging 14.4 points and 53.1% respectively.

LAKERS: Kobe Bryant: We've seen everything from Kobe in the first half of the season — The Black Mamba and the "Kobe Johnson" Bryant. But with the need to win a majority of the remaining schedule to get to the playoffs and in the light of Dr. Buss's passing, there's a good chance we'll see a new version of Kobe starting tonight. The question is, what kind?

Game Info

Tonight vs. Boston Celtics
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. (PST)
Staples Center
TV: TWC SportsNet/ESPN
Radio: 710 AM ESPN/1330 KWKW

Injury Notes

CELTICS: Leandro Barbosa (knee), Rajon Rondo (knee) and Jared Sullinger (lumbar disc) are all out.

LAKERS: Pau Gasol (foot) and Jordan Hill (hip) are both out.

CelticsLakers013011PRd

Preview: Celtics vs. Lakers


(Getty Images)

If Sacramento didn’t interest the Lakers (33-14), perhaps the Boston Celtics (35-11) could. Both teams played on Friday against two of the worst teams in the West and lost, but Boston were defeated by a better team in Phoenix. The 2-time defending champs, however, have no viable excuse as to what transpired Friday night when they lost to the hapless Kings, 100-95.

To the Kings’ credit, they shot the ball well the entire night (especially DeMarcus Cousins who got 27 points on 11-for-19 shooting) and did a great job at outworking the bigger frontline of the Lakers on the boards. Whether or not they got caught looking ahead to their first collision with their biggest rivals from Beantown was the reason for the loss, the real trap game is coming out on Sunday only to fail to vindicate for their disheartening effort Friday night.

The Celtics lead the Eastern Conference by 2 1/2 games in front of Chicago and 3 full games of Miami. They’re 7-3 in their last 10 games and are 11-4 overall in the month of January. Boston lead the league in assists (24.4 APG) and own the second-best defense allowing only 91.5 points per game. The flip side is they only put up 98.7 points (16th) per game and, oddly enough, they are the worst rebounding team at 38.4 boards per outing.

You would think that with a solid collection of bigs that they would be in the top 5 in rebounding. But, that stat right there is indicative of the amount of total mileage on their collective knees.

So how do they get away with being the oldest team in the NBA but have the best record in the East? Simple. No team moves or shares the ball on offense better than they do. That’s because Rajon Rondo is averaging 12.5 assists per game which happens to be tops in the league. Plus, the Celtics play the most physical and active defense in all of basketball.

Paul Pierce leads Boston in scoring at 18.9 points per game while Kevin Garnett is their best rebounder at 8.9 boards and Jermaine O’Neal is their shot-swatting ace averaging 1.2 blocks a contest.

As for the Lakers, they are the second-best team in the West but are 7 games back of San Antonio. They’re also 7-3 in their past 10 games and are 10-4 overall this month. The purple and gold have been progressing well since the return of Andrew Bynum, but the loss on Friday kind of hinted the idea that they are still not mentally up to their championship standards.

Both teams split last season’s series by winning on each other’s home floor. The Lakers have won 3 of the last 4 meetings versus the Celtics at Staples Center, including Games 6 and 7 of last year’s NBA Finals. However, regular season games between these two teams hardly ever influence the way they play each other in the Finals. Then again, since when regular season matchups don’t have that post-season vibe to them?

The Celtics are 13-8 on the road this season but are 1-3 in their past 4 games away from The TD Garden. The Lakers are 18-6 at home and have lost only twice at Staples Center the entire month. Let the war resume!

GO LAKERS!!!

TP&G Blog’s Matchup of the Game

Shaquille O’Neal vs. Andrew Bynum: You didn’t think I’ve forgotten all about Shaq did you? He’s done nothing but always tried to stick it to his former team and former boss since his departure in 2005. Joining the always-hated Celtics could very well be his masterpiece. Shaq may have missed a ton of games this season, but there’s no second guessing he’ll be ramped up for this game. Let’s hope Bynum is ready to dish his own brand of punishment as well.

Keys for the Lakers

1. Mental and Physical: The Celtics aren’t your usual run of the mill kind of team. They’re the former champs that’s gotten deeper in their frontline. The Lakers can’t have a single shred of lackadaisical effort or a feeling of contentment the entire game or this one is going to be an easy L for them.
2. Execution: Boston is 3rd in steals (8.4 SPG) and 5th in forced turnovers (15.9 per game). Not to mention that their entire defensive nature is set upon giving an extra shove and establishing good position in the post. If ever there’s a game the Lakers can’t afford to have too many mistakes, it’s this one.
3. Bigs: It’s most likely the Celtics will try to bully their way to a victory in the paint. That means that Pau Gasol, Bynum and Lamar Odom cannot waste their time with the referees and must absolutely be willing to play this game on both sides of the floor and on the boards. No questions asked!

Game Info

Tip-off is at 12:30 p.m. (PST).  TV: ABC (national)  Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN

Preview: Celtics vs. Lakers

NBA Finals Game 3: Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers

It’s Boston vs. Lakers Round 2 tonight. But this one doesn’t quite have the punch as the first mainly because Kobe Bryant will probably not play his fifth game and the Celtics haven’t gotten any better and are on the verge of having their “Boston Three Party” cancelled by putting Ray Allen on the trading block.

But who cares? We’re not them.

Bryant is now complaining of soreness in his tendon rather than his sprained ankle. He says he’s having some pain whenever he tries to push off with his left leg and believes more rest is necessary to heal it. But Kobe added that he’ll play if he wakes up not feeling any soreness. I guess that 1,000th career game will have to wait until next Tuesday.


It’s most likely Nate Robinson, who flew to Los Angeles, will suit up for the Celtics tonight. The deal hasn’t been finalized yet, but it looks like it will happen.

Boston leads the Atlantic Division and is currently the third team in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference, but they have lost 5 of their last 10 games. However, they’re coming off of a victory against Sacramento last Tuesday. They still have the top defense in the league and own the third best field goal percentage. But stats haven’t been guaranteeing the Celtics a win against anybody in the league.

The Lakers, meanwhile, have won 4 games in a row all without Kobe on the floor for them. Should they win one against Boston without Kobe, it’ll be a monumental boost of confidence for this team. But they will all have to play better than the last 4 games if they wish for such a thing to happen. Remember, the Lakers beat the Celtics on Kobe’s fall-away over Allen earlier this month.

The keys for the defending champs tonight are to contain Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce, defend the perimeter, execute and share the ball on offense, and stay aggressive and smart for the full 48 minutes. The Celtics have too much experience and All-Star caliber players to put away solely on the play of two or three players. It will take a solid team effort on both baskets to sweep them for the second straight season.

Can the Lakers do it? I think so. But it will be one gritty battle.

GO LAKERS!!!

Other Notes: Trade News: The Wizards have finally traded veteran forward Antawn Jamison to the Cavaliers for Zydrunas Ilgauskas and a future first-round pick. The Clippers are the third team involved in the trade and have received Drew Gooden (acquired by Washington in their deal with Dallas earlier this week) for Al Thornton, Brian Skinner and Sebastian Telfair who are all headed to Cleveland.

It must be painful for both Kupchak and Buss to see other teams getting the players they want for the players they no longer want. But it’s difficult to get any deal done when the rest of the league isn’t too keen on helping out the defending champs. Still, Kupchak’s inability to use Adam Morrison‘s expiring contract and get rid of two ridiculously aweful contracts in Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton just isn’t helping their notion that they aren’t making any trades because they think that this group is good enough to win another title.

Look, watching other teams make big trades is one thing, but to see the very teams that will most likely stand in the way of repeating or win more titles get better is another. The Lakers don’t have to get a big-contract player but a proven player who can help improve the team. I just don’t want to hear Kupchak saying that the Lakers are good enough to win but goes around trying to make a deal anymore. I mean who are they fooling? We all know the Lakers are in need of a new point guard for the past two years now. So why not do something about it already?

Preview: Celtics vs. Lakers

NBA Finals Game 3: Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers

It’s Boston vs. Lakers Round 2 tonight. But this one doesn’t quite have the punch as the first mainly because Kobe Bryant will probably not play his fifth game and the Celtics haven’t gotten any better and are on the verge of having their “Boston Three Party” cancelled by putting Ray Allen on the trading block.

But who cares? We’re not them.

Bryant is now complaining of soreness in his tendon rather than his sprained ankle. He says he’s having some pain whenever he tries to push off with his left leg and believes more rest is necessary to heal it. But Kobe added that he’ll play if he wakes up not feeling any soreness. I guess that 1,000th career game will have to wait until next Tuesday.


It’s most likely Nate Robinson, who flew to Los Angeles, will suit up for the Celtics tonight. The deal hasn’t been finalized yet, but it looks like it will happen.

Boston leads the Atlantic Division and is currently the third team in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference, but they have lost 5 of their last 10 games. However, they’re coming off of a victory against Sacramento last Tuesday. They still have the top defense in the league and own the third best field goal percentage. But stats haven’t been guaranteeing the Celtics a win against anybody in the league.

The Lakers, meanwhile, have won 4 games in a row all without Kobe on the floor for them. Should they win one against Boston without Kobe, it’ll be a monumental boost of confidence for this team. But they will all have to play better than the last 4 games if they wish for such a thing to happen. Remember, the Lakers beat the Celtics on Kobe’s fall-away over Allen earlier this month.

The keys for the defending champs tonight are to contain Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce, defend the perimeter, execute and share the ball on offense, and stay aggressive and smart for the full 48 minutes. The Celtics have too much experience and All-Star caliber players to put away solely on the play of two or three players. It will take a solid team effort on both baskets to sweep them for the second straight season.

Can the Lakers do it? I think so. But it will be one gritty battle.

GO LAKERS!!!

Other Notes: Trade News: The Wizards have finally traded veteran forward Antawn Jamison to the Cavaliers for Zydrunas Ilgauskas and a future first-round pick. The Clippers are the third team involved in the trade and have received Drew Gooden (acquired by Washington in their deal with Dallas earlier this week) for Al Thornton, Brian Skinner and Sebastian Telfair who are all headed to Cleveland.

It must be painful for both Kupchak and Buss to see other teams getting the players they want for the players they no longer want. But it’s difficult to get any deal done when the rest of the league isn’t too keen on helping out the defending champs. Still, Kupchak’s inability to use Adam Morrison‘s expiring contract and get rid of two ridiculously aweful contracts in Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton just isn’t helping their notion that they aren’t making any trades because they think that this group is good enough to win another title.

Look, watching other teams make big trades is one thing, but to see the very teams that will most likely stand in the way of repeating or win more titles get better is another. The Lakers don’t have to get a big-contract player but a proven player who can help improve the team. I just don’t want to hear Kupchak saying that the Lakers are good enough to win but goes around trying to make a deal anymore. I mean who are they fooling? We all know the Lakers are in need of a new point guard for the past two years now. So why not do something about it already?

Quantcast