Following a pair of disappointing road losses, the Los Angeles Lakers head to Boston to take on the Celtics. The Lakers have struggled on both ends of the floor in their last two outings, dropping games to the Philadelphia 76ers and the Detroit Pistons.
They have an opportunity to right their wrongs with a statement win against one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics are led by rising stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who are both having career years. Brown, in particular, is making his All-Star case, averaging 27.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
Tatum was out for two weeks due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols but is back on the floor like he never left, scoring 25 and 24 points in his first two games. The Celtics supporting cast consists of Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis and Tristan Thomson.
The Celtics are 2-3 in their last five games, losing their most recent contest to the San Antonio Spurs. Boston is averaging 112.6 points per game while holding their opponents to 109.9.
The Lakers are 3-2 in their last five games. Anthony Davis (bruised quad) did not play against the Pistons, but is expected to return against the Celtics.
The Lakers’ recent struggles can be attributed to turnovers, defensive breakdowns and free throw issues. Los Angeles still has the best defensive efficiency in the league, but turnovers have allowed opponents to generate easy fast-break points.
Moreover, while the Lakers have proven to be the top defensive team in the league at their best, slow defensive rotations over the last few games have resulted in open looks. On the offensive end, the Lakers have struggled at the free throw line, shooting just 65.35% in the last two games.
If the Lakers want to beat a team like Boston, it is imperative that they tighten up these three facets of the game.
While this is still a relatively early game in the season and carries little overall weight, the Lakers-Celtics rivalry is always special. “Two of the most accomplished franchises in the history of the game,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said.
“Obviously many of us that grew up in the ’80s with Bird’s teams against Magic’s teams, that rivalry helping to rejuvenate a struggling league and David Stern’s marketing of those two stars really just continued to grow that rivalry.
“It goes back to the Red Auerbach days. Obviously the Pierce, Garnett, Ray Allen, Rondo teams had some good battles with the Kobe teams. It just seems like there’s a lot of history there. They’re two of the best teams right now and it should be a good matchup.”
In the first matchup of the 2021 season between the two greatest organizations in NBA history, the Celtics will be motivated to take down the reigning champions, but look for the Lakers to come out with energy as they try to avoid a third straight loss.
Lakers (14-6) vs Celtics (10-7)
5:30 p.m. PT, January 30, 2021
TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers starting lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Dennis Schröder
SF: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
PF: Anthony Davis
C: Marc Gasol
Key Reserves: Montrezzl Harrel, Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma, Talen Horton-Tucker, Markieff Morris
Projected Celtics starting lineup:
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Daniel Theis
Key Reserves: Tristan Thomson, Semi Ojeleye, Robert Williams III, Javonte Green, Jeff Teague
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