Preview: Lakers Continue Road Trip in Beantown

Andre Khatchaturian —  January 17, 2014

Let’s be honest. The NBA is a whole lot better when the Lakers and Celtics are formidable teams.

The rivalry has one characteristic that no other rivalry in sports has. Almost every major rivalry in sports started because of geography or the two teams being in the same division or conference.

USC-UCLA? Same city.

Bears-Packers? Four hour drive.

Redskins-Cowboys? Same division.

Red Sox-Yankees? Only a four hour drive, once again. (Though, the whole Babe Ruth sale and Curse of the Bambino was a unique twist. But the Curse is over and the rivalry has lost a bit of its luster.)

What about the Dodgers and Yankees? It’s nice that they’ve maintained their rivalry to some extent, but they used to be crosstown rivals. Doesn’t count.

Boston and Los Angeles are over 2,500 miles apart. They’ve never played in the same division and never will – let alone the same conference. These two teams are rivals based on one sole reason – they’ve met in the NBA Finals 11 times and have combined for 33 NBA titles and that’s what makes it the greatest rivalry in sports. The rivalry is based on the battle for league dominance, not geographical supremacy.

Unfortunately for all NBA fans, though, these two storied franchises aren’t exactly experiencing halcyon days in 2014. Combined, they’ve lost 24 of their last 27 games and have a greater interest in ping pong balls over the Larry O’Brien trophy this year.

They’ll meet tonight in the first of two games this regular season at the TD Garden in Boston. It’ll be the first time the two teams play each other since the post-KG era in Boston. The Lakers played 25 games (including playoffs) against the Celtics during the Garnett-Pierce-Allen era and won 13 games. They’ve won seven of their last 10 regular season games against the Green.

The Celtics received some good news when they learned that star point guard Rajon Rondo will make his season debut Friday night against the Lakers “barring any setbacks”. Having one of the best distributors in the game (averaged 11.3 assists per game over the last three seasons) will bring flow to the Celtics’ offense, which ranks 28th in assists this season. And although Rondo has been criticized for his shooting throughout his career (24.1 percent career three point shooter), he has a career two-point shooting percentage of 49.9 percent.

The Celtics made a three-way trade this week with Miami and Golden State, shipping their third-leading scorer, Jordan Crawford to Golden State for Joel Anthony and a pair of draft picks. They could potentially have three first round draft picks this summer and that could go up assuming they decide to trade Rondo, too.

On the court, the Celtics have been a solid mid-range shooting team this year. They’re 4th in shot attempts from 16-24 feet and have made 41.3 percent of those shots (8th best). However, their three-point shooting has been abysmal and Rondo isn’t going to change that. In their last 13 games, the Celtics have shot below 30 percent from beyond the arc. The team doesn’t really have size – their two tallest players, Kelly Olynyk and Vitor Faverani are both inexperienced rookies. In fact, Celtics centers have allowed a PER of 19.7 against opposing centers this year.

Aside from Rondo, the Celtics will look to Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, and Jared Sullinger for production. Green leads the team in scoring with 15.7 points per game. Bradley is a sharp shooter who has made 38.3 percent of his triples this season. Meanwhile, Sullinger leads the team in rebounding with 7.8 boards per game.

The Lakers march into Boston not having won since January 3 at home against the Jazz. They’ve lost 12 of their last 13 and  have made just 31.7 percent of their threes during that span. The Lakers have been reliant on three point shooting all year long. In wins, the Lakers have made 41 percent of their threes compared to just 33 percent in losses.

They’ll be without Nick Young tonight, who was suspended for throwing a punch at Phoenix’s Alex Len in Wednesday’s loss at the desert. That’s the last news the Lakers needed to hear as they’re already missing Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Xavier Henry, and Jordan Farmar. The Lakers rank fourth in terms of points per play on the Isolation. It’s going to be difficult for the Lakers to succeed in that department with Young out of the lineup since 23 percent of plays he runs are out of the ISO and the Lakers average 0.9 PPP when he runs it.

To replace Young, the Lakers signed Manny Harris to a ten-day contract yesterday. Harris leads the D-League in scoring with 30.6 points and had a 49 point performance earlier this month. With the roster depleted, don’t be surprised if Harris plays double-digit minutes in his Laker debut.

The Lakers are in for a tough one tonight especially with Rondo coming back for the C’s. If they’re going to win this game, they need to improve their three-point shooting. The team lives and dies by the three and they must take quality threes if they’re going to stay competitive in this game. When they’re not shooting threes, they need to use their two hottest players – Pau Gasol (19.7 points, 11.6 rebounds in January) and Kendall Marshall (three straight double doubles) – efficiently in the pick and roll.

Finally, the Lakers need to wake up after halftime. The Lakers have shot just 38 percent in 3rd quarters over the last 13 games and have been outscored by an average of 7.5 points in that span. Whether it’s lack of making adjustments or tiring out, the Lakers have to play a strong 48 minutes. If they do that, they can possibly squeak out a win on the road.

Andre Khatchaturian

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36 responses to Preview: Lakers Continue Road Trip in Beantown

  1. A thought: I wonder if the Lakers lead the NBA in “D-Leaguers.”

  2. Finally, the Lakers need to wake up after halftime.
    ___
    That´s telling it like it is! (nice write-up too.)
    ___
    Hope M. Harris catches them off their guard in Beantown -

  3. Kelly is struggling from beyond the arc, but when he works in to that 18-20 ft area he has been pretty reliable.

    Meanwhile, apparently Chris played too well the other night–any bets on whether he is a DNP-CD tonight?

  4. I stand corrected on Kaman.

  5. So far Harris is our best defender.

  6. Just a bad D-League team.

  7. Hey guys – I lurk daily; really appreciate all of your comments; admit that I’m at best a sports fan and no bball expert, but I do bleed FB&G.

    This has bothered me for a while. In any other sport if a team played as consistently lousy in the 3rd quarter, everyone would be up in arms about the lack of the coaches’ inability to make adjustments. Add that to Jamison’s comments that MDA did not / would not make adjustments in the playoffs, and I think we get a clear picture of his coaching talent (or lack thereof). I hear the issue discussed here, but not so much in the mainstream media.

    Can’t blame any coach for losing right now with all the injuries, and I want very much to give MDA the benefit of the doubt, but egads …

  8. I want to make a comment to whoever anonymous posted in the other thread so if you read this this is for you: Talking about this team being one if the worst of all time and is Buss fault is bs, this team is missing 5 of its top 6 guys on the rotation, this team healthy is a fringe playoff team but it would had been a respectable team. Is not Jim Buss fault that the injury bug bit this team even worse than last year. In all my years being a fan of this team i never seen anything like this, last year team took the cake in injuries, this one took the bakery. You can call a team the worst of all time being injury decimated like this team, i mean we have 8 players available tonight.

  9. I know that somebody within the community mentioned it earlier in the year, but yeah, Meeks has definitely improved in regards to finishing layups.

  10. KM makes many dumb defensive plays and passes to ghosts

  11. Yeah tra last season i wanted to reach thru the screen and choke him everytime i saw him going to the hoop lol.

  12. Things will be fine when Steve Nash comes back

  13. Im tired of people judgin this team talent like it is a healthy team, no other team in the league is close to the level of injuries this team has.

  14. 9-0 Lakers run that tells you how much that Celtic team stinks lol. When was the last time we saw a 9-0 run?

  15. Terrible rebounding team, yet Pringles benches hill to start 2nd half for his current stretch 4 man crush Kelly!!

  16. The 3rd quarter of doom is here, be afraid be very afraid…

  17. Nice game by Kelly

    Another 6 TO game for Marshall.

    Still can win this.

  18. Well as MD says after every game.

    “These are really good guys”

  19. Not a total disaster for the Lakers in the third quarter, they have a chance to win this game.

  20. When you are forced to play D leaguers at guards you get TO. That 10 between Marsh and Harris.

    Sure miss Blake and Farmer.

  21. 20 turnovers and yhe let a rookie that avg 6 ppg score 24. Close game bc both teams aint worth crap.

  22. Well coached play.

  23. Call a timeout when you see your players aren’t able to get the offensive set that you want. I don’t know how many timeouts he has but you can’t take them with you. That’s what I get for falling asleep, lol. Woke up and the Lakers had the lead 105-104 with 34.6 seconds left. Maybe that’s the key to a Laker win.

  24. Well coached play

  25. LAKERS WIN

  26. We just won the world championship!

    Great game Jelly Kelly.

  27. 11-0 run to end the game way to go!!!! Btw the Celts are terrible. Take that Celtics!!!And Hearn take a nap on the 3rd quarters too please? Ty

  28. Whatever. Forgot about the draft for this game. Lakers beating Celtics always feels good.

  29. it´s ALWAYS great to get a win over those dastardly men in green&white
    way to go Purple & Gold!

  30. dog scratches door, we go for walk. we come home, lakers win. good grief; finally some relief !!

    funny how it works that way…..because it’s been a long time coming. Stay agressive, halftime message.

    Go lakers.

  31. melcountscounts January 17, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    This Laker team certainly isn’t very good, but they do play hard. Glad for the win.

    Would like to see Wes, Kendall M. (as a backup), return next year.

  32. The more and more I see of the youngin’ Ryan Kelly, the more it becomes obvious to me that he’s a keeper. Like all rookies, he’ll have his ups and downs, but 1 thing is crystal clear and that is that he knows how to play the game of basketball.

    So even though it’s on a minuscule scale and was more than likely done for financial reasons, the FO was smart to get rid of Williams because it allows room for growth for Kelly; who has way more upside than Williams.

  33. For Nick!

  34. Did anyone notice the short leash on Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman tonight? Any way, Ryan Kelly played well and deserved his minutes (20 pts. but only 4 Rebounds). Kelly played well in crunch time, too. In fact, the entire team did.

    But back to the subject of the bigs: something tells me MDA has it out for Jordan Hill. For some reason, D’Antoni just doesn’t like him.

    We’ll see if D’Antoni’s use of his bigs affects the FO’s decision at the end of the year as to whether to keep him on or not.

    In any event, a nice win. You’ve got to give this team credit. This Lakers team just won’t quit. And they’re obviously not tanking. (They must not have gotten the memo.)

  35. Well if we *have* to get a win…then I’m glad that it’s against the Celtics! ;)

  36. Tra,
    Don’t you think that was one reason the front office got rid of S. Williams? To force Kelly to play more? It also forced some more time for Kaman, just not nearly as much as Kelly. Now, at least Kaman comes in for Gasol, except for some 3rd qtr time with Sacre. I think all of this was made much more clear when Williams was waived. This is development time and both Kelly and Kaman are more than one-trick pony’s.

    I think Kaman’s short leash is due to the fact that we have three centers and Kaman duplicates Pau. Whereas Wesley is more multi-dimensional and less defensively limited than Hill. I like Hill, but he should be in there when we need real bangers. That isn’t the Celtics at this time.

    I will admit I wish Wesley would drive more.