Lakers Vs. Celtics Preview: LeBron James, Anthony Davis Out Against NBA’s Best Team
LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Lakers
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers have a massive mountain to climb on Thursday night. As if defeating the rival Boston Celtics on the road where they have lost just two games all year wasn’t hard enough, the Lakers now have to do so without LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The Lakers’ superstar duo are both out against the rival Celtics, meaning it will take a complete team effort on both sides of the court to pull off the upset.

First and foremost, the Lakers will have to generate enough offense to keep up which puts a lot of pressure on the backcourt of D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves. One of the two will need to be on the court at all times and not only produce points for themselves, but also create for their teammates.

The Lakers do have a couple players capable of big offensive nights with Rui Hachimura and Christian Wood both having the skillset to put points on the board. A hot shooting night from someone like Taurean Prince would also go a long way.

But if the Lakers have any hope of competing against the Celtics, it will take a huge effort on the defensive end. Doing so without Davis seems basically impossible, but if someone like Jarred Vanderbilt can set the tone, and the Lakers embrace the scrappiness and dirty work, they could potentially compete.

But the Celtics are a very tough team to shut down. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown remain one of the best duos in the NBA and Kristaps Porzingis has played at a borderline All-Star level this season as well. Additionally, the Celtics are destructive from 3-point range, leading the NBA in 3-pointers made per game and ranking fourth in 3-point percentage.

Derrick White, Jrue Holiday, Sam Hauser and Al Horford are all shooting above 40% from deep so the Lakers must be on a string and not lose track of shooters.

The Celtics have the best record in the NBA for a reason as they are excellent on both sides of the court. Without James and Davis, the Lakers are behind the eight-ball to start, but the players must simply put their heads down and compete to the best of their ability. If they can do that, perhaps they can surprise Boston and steal a game they have no business to.

Los Angeles Lakers (24-25) vs. Boston Celtics (37-11)

4:30 p.m. PT, February 1, 2024
TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
TV: TNT
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Austin Reaves
SF: Taurean Prince
PF: Rui Hachimura
C: Jaxson Hayes

Key Reserves: Jarred Vanderbilt, Christian Wood, Max Christie, Jalen Hood-Schifino

Projected Celtics Starting Lineup:

PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Derrick White
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Kristaps Porzingis

Key Reserves: Sam Hauser, Al Horford, Payton Pritchard, Oshae Brissett

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