Watch It! - Lakers at Celtics
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight at TD Garden.
Let Kobe Shoot?
Kobe Bryant has been in the NBA for 19 seasons. Rarely has any team ever felt the inclination to let him shoot. However, the Celtics might want to consider doing so tonight.
Bryant is having the most inefficient season of his career, and it’s really not even close. He enters tonight’s action having made just 39.0 percent of his shot attempts on the season. You have to go all the way back to his rookie season, in 1996-97, to find his next-lowest shooting percentage. He made 41.7 percent of his attempts that season.
Boston will want to get into Bryant’s air space tonight and challenge all of his shots. However, the C’s shouldn’t be concerned with trying to take the ball out of his hands. Allowing Bryant to fire up 20-plus shots might be Boston’s best option to force misses.
Get the Offense Cookin’!
The Celtics haven’t exactly been scorching at the offensive end of the floor as of late. In fact, they’ve been ice cold for nearly two weeks.
Boston has shot just 41.7 percent from the field over its last five games while averaging 98.6 points per game. Those numbers are steep drops from the team’s first 11 games of the season, when it shot 48.0 percent and averaged 106.2 PPG.
Tonight may be the night to return to those early-season ways. The Celtics will be taking on a Lakers team that struggles mightily at the defensive end. Los Angeles enters tonight’s contest ranked last in the league in opponent scoring (111.1 PPG) and 29th in the NBA in opponent field goal percentage (47.9 percent). If there’s a night for Boston to get its offense cooking again, this is it.
Keep Kelly Rolling
Kelly Olynyk finally got back on track Wednesday night when he scored 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting against the Detroit Pistons. It had been a while since the big man had experienced similar success.
Prior to Wednesday’s game, Olynyk had averaged just 5.4 points per game on 29.6 percent shooting over his previous seven contests. Those were underwhelming numbers, to say the least.
It is imperative for the Celtics to keep Olynyk rolling tonight. As was written Wednesday night, he is a very important piece of this offense. That notion is highlighted by the fact that Olynyk has shot 59.6 percent from the field during Boston’s five wins this season.
The Celtics have to love what they’re seeing out of Jeff Green this week. He’s been playing like a legit All-Star.
Green is coming off of a 32-point outburst against the Pistons that featured a 6-of-10 showing from long range. That performance came one night after he dropped 25 points via 10-of-16 shooting on the Hawks in Atlanta. Both point totals stood as game highs.
Green has been grooving over his past four games, averaging 20.8 points per game on 46.0 percent shooting from the field and 42.1 percent shooting from long range. Those are big time numbers.
Real Minutes from Smart
After missing 10 games with a sprained left ankle, Marcus Smart finally returned to the lineup Wednesday night.
Well, kind of.
Smart played only five minutes before Brad Stevens took him out for the remainder of the game. Stevens later said that Smart just didn’t look ready, and that it would have been tough to just throw him into the fire.
All signs point toward Smart being fully available tonight. The Celtics on Thursday optioned him down to the Maine Red Claws for a NBA Development League game. Smart logged 28 minutes during that contest, which suggests that he is now healthy. Expect him to see legitimate minutes tonight, likely between 15 and 25, against Los Angeles.