The Lakers face the Boston Celtics tonight with a real chance to win. Los Angeles is coming off a 127-107 victory against the Knicks. Meanwhile the Celtics have regressed recently with a three game losing streak. Expect Lonzo Ball to be out tonight while Brandon Ingram and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are probable against the hated ones.
The Celtics, an excellent team in the 1960s, have wildly exceeded expectations after a brutal injury to Gordon Hayward in the first game of the year. With Brad Stevens, one of the best young coaches in the league, they have the best record in the East to go with its best defense (99.7 Defensive Efficiency). In fact, their only real deficiencies are being mediocre on offense and problematic in cartoon coloration.
There is not a whole lot you can do to stop Kyrie Irving. In the Taking Charge podcast Tim makes a great case for sending Kyrie to his left. With one of the best handles in the league that is easier said than done. Additionally, with Jayson Tatum making an absurd 45% from three, the Lakers need to focus on not helping off the Celtic rookie. Pressure and pace are LA’s best allies against a Celtics team that can lock down half court offense.
Where the Lakers do have an advantage is in playing old school basketball. That is, with put backs, around the rim, and post up moves. Julius Randle, (27 and 12 against the Knicks), is going to need to crash the boards tonight. Brandon Ingram is recently back from an ankle injury and will need a strong game on both ends of the floor. A win tonight is going to come from strong, tall games from Randle and Lopez.
With the second worst offense in the league (101.7 Offensive Efficiency), the Lakers have a tough match-up. To beat the same drum Luke Walton has been playing since September, this one is going to come down to defense. Alex Caruso has recently emerged, playing some quality minutes his last two games.
Caruso only has 20 days left on his Two Way contract and it remains to be seen how the front office will use him the rest of the way. Look for Josh Hart and Caruso to enter early if Tyler Ennis driving to the basket proves ineffective.
The Lakers are underdogs tonight and will be in need of some offense. Regardless of the odds, we have in our favor that women still use Instagram on Tuesdays and Jordan Clarkson will have two days off after playing this game. That is a recipe for success.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start on TNT.