After two straight losses to the Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons, things don’t get any easier for the Los Angeles Lakers.
They face the Boston Celtics in a primetime matchup on Saturday, and need to win to avoid three consecutive losses. LeBron James — after a remarkable first quarter against the Pistons — went completely ice cold. He’ll need to return to form against a quality Celtics team.
Despite the fact that the Lakers and Celtics have been to a combined one NBA Finals since 2010, their rivalry remains one of the strongest and most historically bitter in all of sports. It is by far the NBA’s biggest rivalry, and while its peak was in the 1980s, it was rekindled by Kobe Bryant in the late 2000s.
James, who was already an MVP for the Cleveland Cavaliers when the Lakers and Celtics met twice in three years in the Finals, is enjoying his part in it.
“It’s pretty cool. Just knowing the history of Lakers-Celtics throughout the course of this league, what it means and just seeing some of the biggest games, some of the best players to ever play this game, to be a part of this rivalry is a pretty cool thing,” James said.
“Just learning history. I didn’t personally grow up watching them. I was a little bit too young in the ’80s, and they kind of rekindled it a little bit in the late 2000s when Kobe and them guys were going against KG and them guys. It’s pretty cool.”
However, without fans able to attend, James is aware Saturday’s game won’t come with the same feel. “Right now it’s different. Without the Boston fans and without the Laker faithful, it’s not the same and it won’t feel the same on Saturday,” he said.
“It’s going to feel great to play another game against a very good team, but it won’t have that rivalry feel. The fans are so much a part of that rivalry. If you just go back and watch those games, how key the fans were in all the battles over the course of the years.”
For 10 years, the Lakers and Celtics went through their own rebuilds, and neither one was a serious championship contender until last season. This year, both teams could very easily wind up in the NBA Finals.
Lakers want more assertive Anthony Davis during road trip
As the Lakers seven-game road nears its end, L.A. was hoping to get Anthony Davis back into a rhythm by forcing him to be more assertive offensively. He did not play against the Pistons, but struggled to get anything going against the 76ers and the Cavaliers.
The Lakers will continue their efforts to get him back on track against the Celtics. “We want to make sure we’re playing through him as much as possible,” Vogel said.
“We’ve got a lot of new guys on this team, so there’s been times early in this season where myself and even A.D. has been trying to get other guys comfortable. We knew the beginning of this trip was a time to really start having him be more assertive. He didn’t have a great night against Milwaukee but the mindset was there.”
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