After a six-game East Coast road trip in which they went a solid 3-3, the Los Angeles Lakers finally return home to the Crypto.com Arena. But the road doesn’t get any easier as they are set to host the Boston Celtics, who own the NBA’s best record but have lost two straight games.
This will be a battle of two teams with very different philosophies as the Lakers are all about attacking the paint, dominating inside and getting to the free-throw line. Meanwhile, the Celtics have been unbelievable from the outside, ranking second in the NBA in both 3-point attempts and percentage.
The Celtics, of course, are led by the NBA’s highest-scoring duo in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tatum has been playing at an MVP level this season, building on his excellent playoff performance last year while Brown has grown into one of the more reliable second options as well.
Defending big wings has been a struggle for the Lakers as players such as Patrick Beverley, Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker IV are too small, though they have given great effort and done an admirable job of making things tough on the opposition. Troy Brown Jr. will undoubtedly get some minutes defending the Celtics duo, while the Lakers’ own superstar pair of LeBron James and Anthony Davis could be relied upon even more on that end as well.
Where the Lakers should have the advantage is on the inside, especially with Davis working against the undersized Celtics frontcourt. Al Horford remains sidelined with Blake Griffin moving into the starting center spot. Aside from him, Boston is relying on Grant Williams and Luke Kornet, neither of whom should be able to handle Davis or James down low.
But this game could come down to the play of the guards and which group steps up more. In particular, few guards have had the impact off the bench that Russell Westbrook has had for the Lakers. But the Celtics have of their own in Malcolm Brogdon, who is Boston’s third-leading scorer and shooting nearly 50% from 3-point range. Not to mention the likes of Marcus Smart and Derrick White for Boston, and Reaves and Walker for the Lakers, are all capable of huge impacts.
The stars will be ready to deliver on this night, but which team gets the better contributions from their role players could be the one to come out on top.
Los Angeles Lakers (11-15) vs. Boston Celtics (21-7)
7 p.m. PT, December 13, 2022
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Patrick Beverley
SF: Lonnie Walker IV
PF: LeBron James
C: Anthony Davis
Key Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Austin Reaves, Thomas Bryant, Troy Brown Jr., Kendrick Nunn
Projected Celtics Starting Lineup:
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Derrick White
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Blake Griffin
Key Reserves: Malcolm Brogdon, Grant Williams, Sam Hauser, Luke Kornet
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