Watch It! – Celtics at Lakers
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers meet at 10:30 p.m. tonight at Staples Center.
C’s Look to Carry Momentum Out West
The Boston Celtics pulled off one of their biggest wins of the season Wednesday night when they edged the East’s top-ranked Cleveland Cavaliers, 103-99.
The C’s are hoping to carry that energy with them Friday to Los Angeles, where they are set to begin their longest road trip of the season.
“It’s big for us to have this momentum going into this West Coast swing,” said Jae Crowder, “because we all know it’s a tough swing to have to go out there and play (five) games.”
After tonight’s matchup, Boston will head to Phoenix for a Sunday afternoon game against the Suns, and will then play the following night back in L.A. against the Clippers. The C’s will then head up to Oakland for a Wednesday night matchup against the Golden State Warriors, before finally wrapping up their road trip Friday night in Denver.
Bradley Not Skipping a Beat
Avery Bradley has only played two games since returning from an Achilles injury that sidelined him for a month and a half.
Amazingly, the veteran guard has shown no signs of rust despite his lengthy absence from the court.
Bradley scored 11 points during 21-plus minutes of action Wednesday night, including a critical go-ahead 3-pointer that helped Boston shake off the defending NBA champs.
His defense, however, is what truly shined against the Cavs. Bradley showed off his typical lateral quickness when defending All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, and did not show any discomfort in the process.
The Celtics’ All-Defensive First-Teamer remains on a minutes restriction, but he should be back to playing full-time by the midway point of this road trip.
Battle of Two Top-3 Picks
Two of the top three draft picks from last summer will go toe-to-toe tonight, as 19-year-old Brandon Ingram faces off against 20-year-old Jaylen Brown.
Ingram, the Lakers No. 2 overall selection, was taken one spot ahead of Brown last June. Brown, however, has outperformed Ingram so far throughout his rookie season.
Brown has averaged 13.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per 36 minutes, while shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 33.7 percent from 3-point range.
Ingram, meanwhile, has averaged 10.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per 36, while shooting just 37.1 percent from the field and 29.5 percent from downtown.
The pair faced off for the first time one month ago to the day and their numbers were nearly even across the board.
Ingram played 33 minutes and tallied 14 points, six rebounds and one assist. Brown also saw 33 minutes of action, notching 12 points, seven boards and one dime, while leading his Celtics to a 113-107 win over the Lakers.
Lakers’ Struggling Defense
Los Angeles has been outscored by an average of 19.8 points during its last four games. No other team in the NBA has been outscored by more than 8.5 points during that same span.
The main issue for the Lakers of late has been their woeful defense, which has surrendered 118.8 PPG during their last four contests.
This is good news for the Celtics, who have been somewhat stagnant on the offensive end since returning from the All-Star break. Boston has recorded a post-All-Star offensive rating of 103.1 points per 100 possessions, which is a major dip from its pre-break mark of 109.6.
Williams Out, Brewer In
The Lakers’ offense hasn’t been shining of late either, and that’s largely because they traded away their top scorer, Lou Williams, last week at the trade deadline.
Williams was averaging a team-best 18.6 points per game before Los Angeles dealt him to the Rockets for veteran forward Corey Brewer and a first-round draft pick.
Williams was L.A.’s go-to guy during clutch situations, and it certainly missed him Tuesday night when Charlotte rallied for a 109-104 victory at Staples Center.
"Obviously, it’s more difficult without Lou," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the loss. "He's a fit and knows how to get to the free-throw line and knows how to hit those big shots.”
Brewer hasn’t made much of an impact with L.A. so far, having averaged 3.0 PPG through three contests.