The Los Angeles Lakers will be looking to bounce back from a 32-point loss on Martin Luther King Jr. Day when they get their rematch against the Boston Celtics.
Despite losing both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford in 2019 NBA free agency, the Celtics have been one of the NBA’s best teams on both ends of the floor, and that showed in the last meeting between these two teams. After a hot start by the Lakers, the Celtics simply overwhelmed them on the perimeter en route to a 139-107 win.
The Celtics haven’t slowed down since then. They have the NBA’s third-best net rating, just one spot behind the No. 2 overall Lakers. They are also coming off a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves in which four players scored 25 points or more. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Daniel Theis combined to score 107 of the 127 points.
The Lakers, however, will also be coming off of a great win, beating the Memphis Grizzlies by 12 points in a game where LeBron James and Anthony Davis simply dominated on both ends of the floor.
The major difference between this matchup and the blowout loss will be the absence of Kemba Walker. Walker, who had 20 points and seven assists in the last meeting, will be out after getting his knee drained shortly after the 2020 NBA All-Star Game.
The Lakers will still have to deal with the Celtics barrage of perimeter players. The combination of Brown, Tatum, and Hayward has been the stuff of nightmares for opposing defenses. If the Lakers want to make a statement in this game, they’ll have to try and shut at least one of them down.
Los Angeles will also have the benefit of being at home for this game. For the Lakers, being at home isn’t necessarily a huge advantage as they have a better record away from Staples Center this season. However, the Celtics are just 16-11 on the road, compared to 23-5 in Boston.
One thing to watch for in this game is how well the Lakers start. The only time they’ve played a Sunday afternoon game this season, they got off to an extremely slow start against the Dallas Mavericks and simply never recovered.
This is absolutely a winnable game, but Los Angeles will need a far superior effort to the one they had in Boston. Otherwise, it may be a long day for the purple and gold.
Los Angeles Lakers (42-12) vs. Boston Celtics (39-16)
12:30 P.M. PT, Feb. 23, 2020
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: ABC, 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, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo
Projected Celtics Starting Lineup:
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Gordon Hayward
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Jaylen Brown
C: Daniel Theis
Key Reserves: Enes Kanter, Grant Williams, Brad Wanamaker, Romeo Langford