Boston: 108.0 points/100 possessions (12th)
Los Angeles: 112.6 points/100 possessions (1st)
Boston: 100.1 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd)
Los Angeles: 104.7 points allowed/100 possessions (8th)
Probable Los Angeles starters: Derek Fisher (PG), Kobe Bryant (SG), Ron Artest (SF), Pau Gasol (PF), Andrew Bynum (C)
View from the Opposing Bench: Forum Blue and Gold
Thumbnail: Am I the only one that thinks this game is meaningless? Maybe I am just subconsciously hedging my bets. On paper, there is no way Boston wins this game. The Lakers are at home where they are 18-6. The Celtics are in the midst of a daunting West Coast road trip that has already included an incredibly physical game (Portland), an emotionally-draining/embarrassing loss (Phoenix) and now they have to face the defending Champs. To add injury to insult, Glen Davis is doubtful for today’s contest with a strained left hamstring. This reality puts the exclamation point on the Lakers’ ex-factor and definitive edge in this game: Lamar Odom.
Now with Glen Davis out (or otherwise at less than full strength), the man who is primarily entrusted to keep Odom in check, the Celtics are in primed position to be the recipient of a Lamar Odom rebound/dunk/three point shot maelstrom. The Celtics only chance at salvaging this game from its impending wreckage is to match or surpass the Lakers’ energy level. Lamar Odom going off today is only slightly more likely than Lamar Odom taking himself out of the game, being lulled into taking long jumpers, and being passive on the glass. That’s just who Lamar Odom is; the “should-have-been.”
Today’s game may have not been “over before it began” for much of the week, but it has certainly been overblown. Before the dust of Friday night’s dust-up even settled ESPN Boston’s Chris Forsberg was out in full force with a barrage of coverage, food-for-thought, and other useful/less tidbits. Matt Moore writing for one of his umteenth blogs (NBA Facts and Rumors) wrote a pretty sweet primer for today’s game but again, in light of the loss on Friday all the coverage seems just way too much. In all reality, the Celtics are in prime position to get trounced and will in all likelihood.
WHAT THE LAKERS DO WELL:
Offense. The Lakers are the best offensive team in the league right now mostly due to how well they shoot the ball and how well they take care of it. The Lakers are 8th in the league in effective field goal percentage at 51.3% and only turn it over on 12.8% of each 100 possessions.
Frontline. The Lakers have the most impressive frontline in the NBA with the combination of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom. Due to this personnel, the Lakers are fifth in the league at grabbing available offensive rebounds. See Game 7 of the NBA Finals for more damning evidence of how good they are in this department.
WHAT THE LAKERS DO POORLY:
DRR. For all their strength on the frontline the Lakers are a below average defensive rebounding team only snagging 72.6% of available defensive rebounds. This won’t exactly help the Celtics seeing as how the rank 30th in the league in securing available offensive rebounds.
Consistency. The Lakers have been one of the most up-and-down elite teams this season sparking public condemnation from Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson and devolving offensively into Kobe Bryant hero mode when he deems it necessary. I don’t see him deeming that necessary today. Today feels more like a “Kobe sits out the fourth quarter” game.
PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY:
Pau Gasol. Kevin Garnett is probably going to play a lot of minutes and a lot of those minutes could be spent failing to stop Pau Gasol. The thought is disheartening to say the least. Not entirely certain, but definitely disheartening.
Ron Artest. He should not be feared by anyone at any time except the Boston Celtics. After last season’s NBA Finals, he’s now the one guy you know is going to hit a game-icing three. If you’re a rational Celtics fan, you want Artest being the offensive go-to-guy. If you’re me, you know he’s going to inexplicably knock down shots.
PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY:
Kobe Bryant. He’s not a clutch performer.
Any Bench Player That’s Not Lamar Odom. Shannon Brown has the offensive capability to fill it up but if he is the Celtics are either doing something really right or really wrong. This reality prohibits Brown from being feared. Matt Barnes is not playing. Steve Blake is solid but not awe-inspiring. Don’t get me started on the likes of Joe Smith, Theo Ratliff, and Derrick Caracter.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM BOSTON TONIGHT:
Fire and Passion and Staying Healthy. This game has some nice storylines: Finals rematch, Kendrick Perkins returning to the scene of the crime, rivalry, history– take your pick. But in the scheme of things the Celtics staying healthy and energized for the weeks ahead is far more important. I want more than anything for the Celtics to coast into the All-Star Break healthy and in a good mental state. Right now the team seems fragile. A huge win in LA would do wonders for this team’s mental state but it’s not worth sacrificing anyone’s health.
Not What You Want To See: Lakers 110, Boston 95