The Los Angeles Lakers thought Kyle Kuzma and Lance Stephenson would be back from injury as they take on Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics with little more than the historic rivalry making the game meaningful.
Kuzma, Stephenson and Tyson Chandler were all listed as questionable, with Kuzma and Stephenson the most likely to make a return against the Celtics. However, Lakers head coach Luke Walton said Kuzma will not play.
Lonzo Ball obviously remains out, and based on recent reports, may not play another game this season as he continues to recover from his Grade 3 ankle sprain and bone bruise.
Brandon Ingram was also ruled out on Saturday with Deep Venous Thrombosis, or DVT, an injury that will likely keep him out for the rest of the season.
The big story of the night will be how fans react to Kyrie Irving. He has been one of the big name free agents this summer whose possibly shown interest in joining James next season. As is the case with most big name free agents, expect the crowd to give Irving a warm welcome.
During the game, Irving could be in store for a huge night. With Ball out, finding someone to guard Irving may be a struggle. In their last matchup, Irving put up 24 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
The last time these two team met, on Feb. 7, the Lakers escaped Boston with a victory on a buzzer-beater from Rajon Rondo. He may need to have another big game if the Lakers wants a chance at winning.
Right now, with the playoffs almost entirely out of reach, the Lakers may believe that winning is not a priority as they rise in the draft lottery. However, in a rivalry game against the Celtics, winning always feels nice, meaning players may put aside the tank for one night to try and beat a far superior opponent.
Los Angeles Lakers (30-35) vs. Boston Celtics (40-26)
5:30 P.M. PT, Mar. 9, 2019
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN), 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Reggie Bullock
SF: LeBron James
PF: Josh Hart
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Lance Stephenson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso
Projected Celtics Starting Lineup:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Marcus Morris
C: Al Horford
Key Reserves: Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier