The Boston Celtics will take on their eternal rivals, the LA Lakers, on Tuesday at Staples Center. It will be a rematch of the game that happened in Boston, where the C's pummeled the Lakers in LeBron James' return after an abdominal injury.
Head coach Ime Udoka’s team are 3-1 in their last four games but could have easily been 4-0 if not for the Utah Jazz’s spectacular three-point shooting. Despite that loss, it’s quite clear that the Boston Celtics’ offense is starting to hum in their last few games. They destroyed the Portland Trail Blazers in their last game after scoring a season-high 145 points in regulation.
The LA Lakers’ Jekyll and Hyde season continued with a loss to the LA Clippers. LeBron James and the Lakers never got a taste of the lead in that game. They were undone by yet another role player in Luke Kennard, who scored timely baskets to keep the Lakers at bay.
The Purple and Gold outfit, this season, can’t seem to take a step forward without taking two steps back. They were aggressive on defense, particularly on closeouts, but paid dearly for it with the Clippers’ savvy adjustments.
The LA Lakers should learn their lessons well and hope to improve against the Boston Celtics’ stifling defense and recently-hot offense.
Fixture: Boston Celtics vs LA Lakers | 2021-22 NBA season
Date & Time: Tuesday, December 7th; 10:00 PM ET (Wednesday, December 8th; 8:30 AM IST)
Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Boston Celtics Preview
The Boston Celtics have leaned heavily on their defense since that meltdown in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bulls. From a middling defense, the C's now have an elite defense that travels well in the NBA. They can now stand toe-to-toe against elite teams as long as they stay focused and give maximum effort on the defensive end.
In the last five games, though, their offense has suddenly caught fire. The 116.4 offensive rating in the last five games tops the Utah Jazz by a whisker as the best in the league. The Boston Celtics have now scored 130 and 145 points in back-to-back games, something that hasn’t happened in more than 30 years.
According to Ime Udoka, the improvement on offense is based on a concerted effort to push the pace and ball movement to find the best shots. The adjustments seem to be working as the Boston Celtics’ average offense now seems to be firing on all cylinders.
Key Player - Jayson Tatum
With Jaylen Brown hampered by injuries for much of the season, Jayson Tatum is indisputably the Boston Celtics’ best player. In his last three games, the two-time All-Star has put up 31.3 PPG, 10.7 RPG and 3.7 APG. He is shooting a 48% / 36% / 96% split in these three games.
The 23-year old Boston Celtics superstar is also attacking the basket more than ever. In his last two games, he has made 9-10 free throws against the Blazers and 11-11 against the Jazz. It is the first time this season that he had double-digit free throw attempts in consecutive games.
JT had a big night for the Boston Celtics against the LA Lakers in their first meeting. He finished with a game-high 37 points and 11 rebounds. The Lakers had no answer for him all night long.
Boston Celtics Predicted Lineup
G - Marcus Smart - G - Dennis Schroder | F - Jayson Tatum | F - Al Horford | C - Robert Williams
LA Lakers Preview
Frank Vogel, with a quarter of the season gone, is still tinkering with the LA Lakers’ rotation. In the last 10 games, he has tried DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard at different times as the starting center. He has also used Talen Horton-Tucker or Avery Bradley as part of the first unit at shooting guard. Lately, he has been trying LeBron James as the man in the middle.
The injuries have caused lineup changes, obviously, but the tinkering is also because the LA Lakers have not found a combination that has delivered consistent results. The Lakers’ roster changes are allowing them only a 106.9 offensive rating, which is only good for 22nd in the league. That, and their turnover-prone play, is just making their search for rhythm and consistency almost too hard to achieve.
The LA Lakers have a 12-12 record with 15 games played on their home floor. They have also had one of the softest schedules so far this season. The Lakers will have to play with a greater sense of urgency and commitment if they don’t want to waste LeBron James’ championship window.
Key Player - LeBron James
In year 19 and already 36 years old, LeBron James is still the LA Lakers’ best player. This is almost unbelievable considering he has Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook as teammates. The fact that he is the biggest factor in the Lakers’ championship bid says everything about his value to the franchise.
The LA Lakers are only 5-7 without the four-time MVP this season. They have often looked flat, disengaged and sometimes bored when LeBron James is not on the floor. It’s a testament to the Lakers’ ineptitude that despite employing two of the highest-paid players in the NBA, they still can’t do almost anything without James.
Los Angeles Lakers Predicted Lineup
G - Russell Westbrook | G - Talen Horton-Tucker | F - LeBron James | F - Anthony Davis | C - Dwight Howard
Celtics vs Lakers Match Prediction
The LA Lakers’ wildly inconsistent form makes this game tough to predict. They have rarely been able to put together 48 minutes of solid to great basketball. If they play the same way they did in their first matchup against the Boston Celtics, they could go 0-2 against their bitter rival.
Where to watch the Celtics vs Lakers game
TNT will air the game live nationally. Local coverage of the matchup between the Boston Celtics and LA Lakers is available via Spectrum SportsNet.