Watch It! - Celtics at Lakers
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers meet at 10:30 p.m. tonight at the STAPLES Center.
Who Are The Lakers?
Strip away the purple and gold and the names across their chest and you’d have no idea that the Celtics are playing against the Los Angeles Lakers tonight. The Lakers’ game notes list the following five players as their probable starters for tonight’s game: Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Chris Kaman, Ryan Kelly and Wesley Johnson.
There’s one All-Star appearance in that group (Kaman, 2010) and you’d be hard-pressed to find a single general manager who views any of those players as a foundational piece. There isn’t much coming off the bench, either, thanks to Kobe Bryant, Xavier Henry and Nick Young being out with injuries.
Los Angeles could receive a boost tonight with the possible return of two of its best players. Pau Gasol, who has missed the last seven games with a strained groin, is listed as probable. Steve Nash, who has missed the last two games, is listed as day-to-day.
Maintain Play without Rondo
Rajon Rondo has been pretty darn good this month. He has logged all three of his double-doubles in February while averaging 15.2 PPG and 9.4 APG through five contests.
Rondo is coming off of an 18-point, 10-assist game in Phoenix that featured a 4-of-5 shooting performance in the midrange. He made a dramatic impact on the game, helping the Celtics to outscore the Suns by 16 points during his 36 minutes of action.
The problem for Boston is what happened during the other 12 minutes of the game. The C’s were outscored by 22 points while Rondo was on the bench.
This is a clear indication that Boston’s bench needs to pick up its performance. The five Celtics reserves who played Wednesday night totaled just 21 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. Their play must improve tonight.
Slowing Down Marshall
The odds are that Nash won’t play tonight and that will leave Marshall as Los Angeles’ starting point guard. At this point, that may not be a bad thing for the Lakers.
Marshall is beginning to look like the player Phoenix thought it was getting when it selected him with the 13th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He is averaging a double-double of 11.6 points per game and 11.1 assists per game since he began playing a major role for the Lakers at the beginning of January.
One of Marshall’s best games of the season came against Boston back on Jan. 17. He scored 19 points, including a 4-of-5 shooting performance from long range, to go along with 14 assists. Marshall is also fresh off of a 20-point, 16-assist performance Wednesday night against Houston.
This kid is turning into a legitimate floor general who can shoot and pass. One of Boston’s top priorities will be to slow him down, and that responsibility will likely fall on the shoulders of Rondo.
Jared Sullinger left Wednesday’s game with 11 seconds remaining after going down and grabbing his right leg. Sullinger said after the game that he had only suffered a cramp in the leg and the hope is that he will have no lingering effects.
No news has come out of the Celtics camp regarding a serious injury for Sullinger, and as we all know, no news is good news in that department. He is listed as the expected starting center for Boston tonight.
The Celtics are clearly a better team when Sullinger is on the court. He is a difference maker at both ends of the court with his scoring and rebounding ability. Boston needs him to play, and it needs him to play at a higher level than he did Wednesday night when he shot just 5-of-13 from the field.
Another Big Night for Bass?
Brandon Bass is coming off of a solid performance against the Suns in which he tied for the team high in both scoring (18 points) and rebounding (eight boards). He may be in line for another big performance tonight.
Bass will face off against either Kelly or Gasol at the start of tonight’s game. Bass is in a completely different stratosphere than both of those players when it comes to athleticism. Though he typically struggles to shoot over long defenders, Bass should be able to get quality looks at the basket tonight via drives and pick-and-pops. He scored 10 points against the Lakers on Jan. 17 in just 19 minutes of action.