The latest chapter in the NBA's oldest rivalry will be scripted on Thursday night with the Boston Celtics taking on the LA Lakers. This is the second and final meeting between the two sides this season. It will be the first game at Staples Center this season with fans in attendance. The previous matchup between the two went down to the wire with the Lakers edging the game by a solitary point.
The Boston Celtics enter this tie in probably the best form they've been all year. Brad Stevens' men carry a four-game unbeaten streak and have won six of their seven games in April. Jayson Tatum has been on an absolute tear this month as well, averaging 29.4 points on 50-40-90 shooting to go with 8.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.
In comparison, the LA Lakers have been rather patchy. They went 4-3 on their recent seven-game road trip. They enter this game on the back of a win but haven't won two consecutive games since March 28. Andre Drummond went off for 20 points and 11 rebounds against the Brooklyn Nets. Drummond continued to thrive on the boards but managed a combined seven points in the next two games. He'll be looking to redeem himself.
Boston Celtics vs LA Lakers: Injury Report
The Boston Celtics have done a fabulous job without their biggest trade acquisition of the season. Evan Fournier has been in the NBA's health and safety protocols for more than a week but is still some time away from returning.
Fournier isn't the only Celtic who's had problems due to COVID. It was only recently revealed that Jayson Tatum has to use an inhaler before games. Even Tristan Thompson is only slowly getting up to speed following his lengthy spell on the sidelines for the same reason.
Markieff Morris was the latest Laker to sit on the sidelines. Morris missed Tuesday's game against the Charlotte Hornets with an ankle injury, which is just a day-to-day issue for now. He's questionable for the matchup against the Boston Celtics.
There are no additional updates regarding Anthony Davis and LeBron James. The former is close to a return and should be suiting up for the LA Lakers before the end of the month, while LeBron is targeting the first week of May for his return.
Boston Celtics vs LA Lakers: Predicted Lineups
There's absolutely no reason for head coach Brad Stevens to tinker with his winning combination. Kemba Walker has been inefficient from the field but his playmaking has helped a lot of late. Meanwhile, Marcus Smart has simply gotten the hang of making winning plays.
Jaylen Brown is playing through his knee tendonitis but still managing to impress on both ends of the court. Jayson Tatum has reclaimed his position as the leader of the Boston Celtics and has scored a combined 113 points in his last three games. Center Robert Williams has also been reliable in the post and will round out the starting lineup.
Dennis Schroder has been the main ball-handler for the LA Lakers. He's averaging 7.7 assists per game in April. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a rather dry spell in March but he's averaged 13.9 points on 51.2% shooting from deep in the last two weeks.
Talen Horton-Tucker got an extended run in the starting lineup but he'll likely move back to the bench if Markieff Morris returns. Kyle Kuzma scored a team-high 24 points in the LA Lakers' latest game and should occupy one of the wing spots on Thursday. Andre Drummond will complete the starting five for the Purple and Gold.
Boston Celtics vs LA Lakers: Predicted Starting 5s
Point Guard - Kemba Walker | Shooting Guard - Marcus Smart | Small Forward - Jaylen Brown | Power Forward - Jayson Tatum | Center - Robert Williams III
Point Guard - Dennis Schroder | Shooting Guard - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope | Small Forward - Kyle Kuzma | Power Forward - Markieff Morris | Center - Andre Drummond