The Los Angeles Lakers will finally get Anthony Davis back after a five-game absence when they take on their rivals — the Boston Celtics — in the second game of a five-game road trip.
Davis will return after missing five games due to a bruised tailbone suffered against the New York Knicks on Jan. 7. The Lakers played extremely well in his absence, going 4-1 including road wins against the Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder (without LeBron James), and the Houston Rockets. Their only loss came at home to the Orlando Magic.
In other injury news, Rajon Rondo remains questionable with a fractured finger. In last season’s meeting against the Celtics in Boston, Rondo hit the buzzer-beating game-winner. And while Rondo has had his issues this season, he does seem to play better in bigger and more meaningful games.
For the Celtics, they seem to be getting healthy at just the right time. Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown, who were both listed as questionable, are slated to play against the Lakers. The Celtics need all the help they can get, as they are currently on a three-game losing streak and need a win badly.
The Celtics lost to the Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, and Phoenix Suns prior to this game, but did not have Walker or Brown in those games. Getting fully healthy means a chance to get back to what they do best, which is overwhelming teams on the perimeter with their big and talented collection of wings.
Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Walker, and Brown are all players that need to be watched in this game, which will likely require Davis to play a lot of wing defense in his return. He’s more than capable, being one of the league’s leading 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year candidates, but it will be a challenge in his first game back.
Avery Bradley, Alex Caruso, Danny Green, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will all need to be at their best defensively. Caruso will be spending a lot of time guarding Marcus Smart in the second unit, and Smart could still be on fire after hitting 11 threes in the Celtics last game.
Down low is where the Lakers will have their major advantage and should be where they try to impose their will in this game. Davis, JaVale McGee, and Dwight Howard are all bigger, faster, and stronger than anyone the Celtics have in the paint. The Celtics usually run a two-man rotation down low of Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis with Robert Williams out indefinitely.
The Lakers should absolutely take advantage of what will likely be a full game mismatch on either Davis or one of McGee/Howard. If they do, they can be successful against their rivals in this prime time matchup.
Los Angeles Lakers (34-8) vs. Boston Celtics (27-14)
4:30 P.M. PT, Jan. 20, 2020
TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
TV: TNT, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN), 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Danny Green
PF: Anthony Davis
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Kyle Kuzma, Dwight Howard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso
Projected Celtics Starting Lineup:
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Gordon Hayward
C: Daniel Theis
Key Reserves: Marcus Smart, Enes Kanter, Grant Williams, Semi Ojeleye