at Los Angeles Lakers (23-26) at Boston Celtics (25-23)
Thursday, February 5, 2013
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #49, Home Game #27
TV: TNT, TSN
Radio: WEEI, KSPN, ESPNR, WMFS
TD GardenProbable Starters
Point Guard: Avery Bradley ---------------- Shooting Guard: Courtney Lee
Center: Kevin Garnett
Small Forward: Paul Pierce ------------------ Power Forward: Kevin Garnett
Rajon Rondo (knee) out
Jared Sullinger (back) outProbable Starters
Point Guard: Steve Nash -------------------- Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant
Center: Robert Sacre
Small Forward: Ron Artest -------------------- Power Forward: Earl Clark
Pau Gasol (foot) out
Dwight Howard (shoulder) day to day
Jordan Hill (hip) out Team Connections
Brandon Bass and Dwight Howard were teammates in Orlando from 2009-11
Bass, Howard, Earl Clark and Chris Duhon were teammates in Orlando during the 2010-11 season
Jason Collins and Paul Gasol were teammates in Memphis during the 2007-08 season
Courtney Lee and Dwight Howard were teammates in Orlando during the 2008-09 season
Lee and Jordan Hill were teammates in Houston from 2010-12
Jason Terry and Jordan Hill both attended Arizona
Steve Blake and Chris Wilcox both attended Maryland
Chris Duhon and Chris Wilcox both played for New York during the 2008-09 season
Leandro Barbosa and Steve Nash were teammates in Phoenix from 2004-10.Key Matchups
Courtney Lee vs Kobe Bryant
Kobe has had some problems with his elbow, but that won't stop him from playing and from putting up big numbers. Against the Nets on Tuesday, Kobe finished with 21 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. He had to shoot 24 shots though to get 21 points. One thing is for certain, Kobe will keep shooting, whether he is hitting or not. CLee has to harass him enough to make him miss more than he makes.
Paul Pierce vs Ron Artest
Artest isn't the defender he used to be but still can play decent defense when the mood hits him. He has, however resorted to dirty plays more and more. He missed the last game vs the Nets because he was suspended for grabbing Brandon Knight around the neck and hitting him in the jaw. 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. (For the record, I refuse to call him World Peace because that is simply ridiculous given his violent nature.) Honorable Mention
Avery Bradley vs Steve Nash
Steve Nash can score and can set up his teammates, but he has never been known for his speed or his defense. With Avery's speed, he should be able to beat Nash and get to the hoop. He should also be able to keep Nash from putting up big numbers. Game Notes
The Lakers make their only trip to Boston as these two rivals both teams are boasting winning streaks in spite of struggling with injuries to key players. When the schedule comes out, there are certain games that players and fans look for and circle. Lakers games are the first I look for always. There is no question that this is a rivalry. There is no love lost between these two franchises or their fans.
Last season, when both teams were fairing somewhat better, the Lakers won the series 2-0. Both games were close with the Lakers winning 88-87 in overtime in Boston and 97-94 in LA. This is their first meeting this season and the Celtics will pay a visit to the Staples Center later this month on February 20.
Dwight Howard has been in and out with a shoulder injury. He missed the game on Tuesday in New Jersey and is listed as day to day for this game. After the Nets game, Kobe called Howard out and told him to suck it up and play. Robert Sacre is listed as the starting center so it appears that Dwight won't be following Kobe's suggestion. Pau Gasol, who started at center on Tuesday, left the game in the 4th quarter with a torn plantar fascia and will be out for this game. If Dwight ignores Kobe's challenge to suck it up and sits this one out, I expect Robert Sacre to start at center. Kobe has also had some problems with an elbow injury but has been playing through it.
The Celtics have also been struggling to overcome injuries and so far have done an exceptional job of it by winning their last 5 in a row without Rajon Rondo and the last 4 without Jared Sullinger. Every player has stepped up in each of those games and hopefully they will continue to do so in this one.
The Celtics are playing in back to back games and had to travel from Toronto and so could be tired. The Lakers had a day of rest going into this game. I'm pretty certain that this wasn't a coincidence. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games and 17-9 at home. The Lakers ar 6-4 in their last 10 and 8-16 on the road. The Celtics are riding a 5 game win streak while the Lakers have won their last 3.
Some of the luster may have come off of this rivalry with both teams struggling, but it is still Lakers vs Celtics, and it is still one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports. There shouldn't be any lack of motivation in this game for either team. 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. They have to defend both the perimeter and the paint as the Lakers are capable of hitting the long ball as well as getting to the hoop to score.
- Rebounding is also key to winning. The Celtics miss Sully's presence on the boards, but they have been rebounding as a team and that has helped. 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 for the Lakers. Effort and Focus
- There should be no lack of motivation for this game. Although many of the players on both sides are new to this rivalry, many have a sense of the history between these two clubs. There is no excuse for anything less than full out effort and focus in this game. The Celtics must be the more aggressive team in every area of this game. Push the Ball
- The Celtics have found success in pushing the ball up the court quickly before the defense can get set. They need to continue to do this and to advance the ball with the pass rather than walking it up. Ball movement will be key. 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.