On Tap: The Boston Celtics

 —  March 2, 2005

Sure we only played them one week ago, but this is not the same Boston team the Lakers beat.

The next day the Celtics went and got Antoine Walker, then a couple of days later went and beat the Suns. Celtic fans are ecstatic. There’s going to be a playoff atmosphere in the building tonight, with Celtics Blog saying, “Walker likely to get a “Beatles land in America” type greeting from the crowd.”

In the last two games, the Celtics have shot 51.5% (eFG%) compared to 49.6% earlier in the season. They’ve had an offensive rating of 116.2 (points per 100 possessions), compared to 104 for the season. Walker led the team in both scoring and rebounding in both games.

Into that walk the lost-three-in-a-row Lakers. The Lakers who apparently left their defense back at Staples (“We put it right next to the door so we wouldn’t forget it, I don’t know what happened”).

Only one thing has me at all optimistic today — every time I have thought the Lakers would pack it in this season, they have surprised me with a win.

For that to happen a few things need to come to pass: Chris Mihm is going to have to have another game like he did last time these teams met — 19 points, 8 offensive rebounds and 4 blocked shots; another former Celtic, Jumaine Jones, added 14 and was a +20, and will have to be close to that; Kobe and Lamar will need to match or improve their 21 points from that game; and the Lakers will need to clean the offensive glass — they had 21 offensive rebounds.

This is going to be a tough one for the Lakers. If they play defense like they did the last couple of games, it will be over by halftime. I’d be surprised if it’s not, but I’ve been surprised a few times this season.

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As a side note, Gary Payton is not expected to play, although some people are hopeful he will and some in the press think so.