On Wednesday the Los Angeles Lakers will kick off their four-game road trip against their familiar rivals, the Boston Celtics. The two most successful franchises in NBA history, these two teams have been battling since the early days of the league.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton is familiar with the rivalry himself as he faced off against Boston in two NBA Finals, coming out victorious in 2010. His team, however, has very little history in the rivalry and certainly none on the grand NBA Finals stage.
That is likely part of the reason Walton doesn’t plan on focusing on the rivalry ahead of Wednesday’s game, as he told Bill Oram of the OC Register:
“As much as we like beating Boston and we want to beat Boston, that’s not going to be part of my pregame speech at all,” Walton said.
Walton added that while there is history with Boston, all of the Lakers’ upcoming games on this trip are extremely important:
“Obviously the history (with Boston) is there,” Walton said, “but as much as that’s still relevant in today’s sports, on the list of how high of a priority that is for what we’re working on, whether it’s Boston, Washington, Milwaukee, it’s all the same. They’re good playoff teams.”
Of the players in the current rotation only Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, and Corey Brewer have squared off against the Celtics while wearing the purple and gold. Surely there is knowledge of the rivalry, but until this current iteration of the teams square off in the Finals, it isn’t quite what we all remember.
With the Lakers just trying to return to relevancy right now, this four game trip is very important in showing the rest of the league that they are for real. As such, Walton being sure to focus on all the games equally will be important if the team hopes to be successful on the road.
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