The Lakers and Celtics come into tonight’s matchup as two teams that are on the verge of a rebuild. With the Lakers battling multiple injuries this season and not having enough bodies to compete on a nightly basis, they’ve placed themselves in an unfortunate situation.
As for the Celtics, they have embraced the idea of rebuilding. The “Big 3” is no more, and they are now looking to find the next player to carry the torch for their historic franchise.
Tonight, both of these franchises will embark upon the “tank” sweepstakes as many believe that both of these franchises are setting themselves up to draft one of the top prospects in college basketball.
The Lakers will be without Nick Young, as he has been suspended for one game after his heated altercation in the Lakers’ loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. To fill in for Young, the Lakers signed Manny Harris, who stood out in the D-League over the past few weeks.
It’s going to be tough for the Lakers to win tonight without Swaggy P, but with a complete team effort, they might be able to end this six game skid.
Frontcourt: The Celtics don’t boast a very talented frontcourt. They start Kris Humphries, Jared Sullinger, and Jeff Green. Not the most talented bunch, but they play very hard under new head coach Brad Stevens.
The Lakers will need Kaman, Gasol, and Hill to match the energy that the Celtics will play with. Gasol in particular will need to make it his duty to punish the Celtics on the offensive end. He’s easily the most skilled big man on the court, and the Lakers will rely on him if they plan to win.
Backcourt: Tonight marks the return of Rajon Rondo. The All-Star point guard has fully recovered from ACL surgery and is making his season debut. The Celtics recently traded Jordan Crawford, Marshawn Brooks, and Courtney Lee. They are lacking in guards and Rondo’s return couldn’t have come with better timing.
Surely Brad Stevens feels that the Lakers aren’t a bad team for Rondo to make his debut against, as they are also depleted at the guard position. Nick Young will miss tonight’s game due to suspension, and Kobe Bryant, Xavier Henry, Jordan Farmar, Steve Blake, and Steve Nash are all still in the process of recovering from their respective injuries.
Someone is going to have to step up tonight. Be it Jodie Meeks or Kendall Marshall, the Lakers will rely heavily on these two to get the job done in Young’s absence.
Keys to Lakers Victory:
Limit Turnovers: With only one active point guard in Kendall Marshall, and Nick Young missing tonight’s game, the Lakers have a tough task ahead of them in running Coach D’Antoni’s system. This team has struggled with turnovers due to the lack of guard depth, and it’s been tough for D’Antoni to adjust his coaching philosophies amidst that predicament. The Lakers have to limit their turnovers because against a young and athletic Celtics team, turnovers will lead to easy baskets in transition.
Controlling The Pace: The Lakers and Celtics are the exact opposite when it comes to pace. The Celtics like to slow the game down and run Stevens half-court system, while the Lakers like to get up-and-down the court and get as many offensive possessions as they can. It’s possible that the team that dictates the pace will win this game, so the Lakers must do a great job of imposing their style of play early and throughout.
Sustained Effort: Earlier in the season, this team relished the idea of having to play hard all 48 minutes. Their effort has been seemingly nonexistent over the last twenty games, and in part that can be due to the lack of healthy bodies. Still, they need to get that back, as it was a key aspect of their identity when they were having some success in November and early December.
Boston Celtics (14-26) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (14-25)
4:30 PM PST, January 17, 2014
TD Garden, Boston, MA
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: ESPN Radio 710 ESPNLA
Celtics Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jeff Green
PF: Jared Sullinger
C: Kris Humphries
Key Reserves: PF Brandon Bass, F Gerald Wallace, G Jerryd Bayless
Lakers Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Kendall Marshall
SG: Jodie Meeks
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Jordan Hill
C: Pau Gasol
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