at Los Angeles Lakers (14-11) at Boston Celtics (14-10)
Thursday, February 9
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #25, Home Game #17
TV: TNT, TSN2
Radio: WEEI, KSPN, ESPNR
TD GardenProbable Starters
Point Guard: Rajon Rondo ---------------- Shooting Guard: Ray Allen
Center: Jermaine O'Neal
Small Forward: Paul Pierce ------------------ Power Forward: Kevin Garnett Celtics Reserves
Marquis Daniels (ankle) day to day
Keyon Dooling (hip) day to day Probable Starters
Point Guard: Derek Fisher -------------------- Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant
Center: Andrew Bynum
Small Forward: Metta World Peace -------------------- Power Forward: Pau Gasol Lakers Reserves
Steve Blake (rib) out Team Connections
Jermaine O’Neal and Metta World Peace were teammates in Indiana from 2001-06
Troy Murphy played for the Celtics during the 2010-11 season
Matt Barnes, Chris Wilcox and Keyon Dooling were teammates on the LA Clippers during the 2003-04 season
Matt Barnes, Brandon Bass and Mickael Pietrus were teammates in Orlando during the 2009-10 season
Troy Muprhy and Mickael Pietrus were teammates in Golden State from 2003-07
Barnes and Pietrus were also teammates in Golden State from 2006-08
Derek Fisher and Mickael Pietrus were teammates in Golden State during the 2005-06 season
Jermaine O’Neal and Troy Murphy were teammates in Indiana from 2006-08.Key Matchups
Let's face it, every matchup is crucial in this game. But I think some may benefit the Celtics the most if we can get the upper hand in them.
Rajon Rondo vs Derek Fisher
We know that Rondo sets the tone and the pace for the Celtics. As Rondo goes so go the Celtics. When Rondo is aggressive on both ends of the court the Celtics are a much better team. The Celtics need Rondo to be aggressive in driving to the hoop and in finding the open man. He needs to set the pace of the game and keep the ball moving on offense. Kobe will probably be guarding him most of the time rather than Fisher and the more active and aggressive he is, the more tired Kobe will be down the stretch. If Fisher guards him, he should be able to get past him at will.
Kevin Garnett vs Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol is the Lakers 2nd option on offense. More often than not, Pau has let KG get into his head. KG has to keep the upper hand and keep Pau on his heels and off his game. The Celtics will need KG's defense especially but they will also need him to hit those midrange shots that seem so automatic for him these days. Honorable Mention
Jermaine O'Neal vs Andrew Bynum
Bynum is younger, stronger, dirtier and dumber. Jermaine needs to keep him from getting inside position for rebounds, putbacks and easy scores. This is easier said than done. Hopefully JO can get through the game without Bynum pulling some dirty play to injure him.
Paul Pierce vs Metta World Peace (That is so stupid)
Pierce got the record out of the way in the last game so should be free to concentrate on doing whatever it takes to win this game. Artest isn't the defender he used to be but still can play decent defense when the mood hits him. The Captain has been playing very well and hopefully he can continue to play well and get into Artest's head (which can be a very scary place) and get the best of this matchup.
Ray Allen vs Kobe Bryant
Kobe has been putting up some incredible numbers so far this season. Just as with the Celtics big 3, he's not as young as he used to be but he is still capable of taking over a game. The Celtics will need to try to keep Kobe from going off on offense and also try to tire him out by making him play defense. I don't see Kobe chasing Ray through screens and so Fisher will probably get that job. Ray should win that matchup. Game Notes
When the schedule comes out, there are certain games that players and fans look for and circle. This is one of the games that Celtics fans and players circle. There is no question that this is a rivalry. There is no love lost between these two franchises or their fans.
Last season they split the series 1-1. It was on February 10 last season, against the Lakers, that Ray Allen broke Reggie Miller's 3 point record. Thankfully Paul Pierce got his record out of the way in the last game so that won't be a distraction in this one. In the two games last season, Pierce averaged 23.5 points and Ray averaged 20.5 points while on the Lakers side, Kobe averaged 32 points and Gasol 16.
The Celtics have won their last 5 games and 9 of their last 10. The Lakers have lost their last two games and are 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Lakers have struggled on the road, with just a 3-9 record away from the Staples Center. The Celtics struggled early, but have been playing well of late, boasting a 10-6 record at home.
There shouldn't be any lack of motivation in this game for either team and it should be a good game. When these two teams meet up, there's just one thing to say, and that is Beat LA!!! Keys to the GameDefense
- Defense is the key to winning this game and to winning Banner 18. The Celtics have been winning with their defense and they need to continue that tough lock down defense, especially in this game if they want to get the win.
- Rebounding is second only to defense as a key to winning. The Celtics have been rebounding as a team and that has improved their rebounding numbers. They need to crash the boards and aggressively go after every rebound to prevent second chance points and easy put backs along with fast break points. Take Care of the Ball
- The Celtics still tend to lose focus and turn the ball over too much. They have to watch their passes and not allow the Lakers to get easy steals from them by not paying attention to where the defenders are. They can't give the Lakers extra opportunities by being sloppy with the ball. Bench Play
- The Celtics bench is finally healthy and they have been playing very well. If they play up to their potential, this matchup should go to the Celtics. Which bench would you rather have? Pietrus, Bass, Wilcox, Johnson, Moore, Bradley, Stiemsma, Pavlovic, Dooling and Daniels or Murphy, Goudelock, Barnes, Kapono, Eubanks, McRoberts, Morris, Walton and Blake? I'd go with the C's bench every time! Effort and Focus
- There should be no lack of motivation for this game. Although many of the Celtics players weren't here for the 2010 game 7 debacle where the game was stolen from them, they should get a sense of the rivalry between these two teams from the players who were here for it. There is no excuse for anything less than full out effort and focus in this game. X-Factors
Home Court and the Officials
The Celtics have the home crowd behind them and they need to let that give them a boost in this game. We know that the officials can make a difference in a game (see 2010 Finals Game 7) and hopefully in this game the officials will let them play and not try to influence the outcome.