Pregame Post-Ups: Celtics-Lakers Rivalry Inches Back Toward Normalcy

Thursday, April 15 - Celtics at Lakers

Pregame – Celtics-Lakers Rivalry Inches Back Toward Normalcy

The Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t have picked a more perfect time to have their fans return to STAPLES Center than on Thursday night when they host the Boston Celtics.

When the C’s and Lakers faced off on Jan. 30 in Boston, there were no fans inside TD Garden, making for a strange edition of their storied rivalry. But allowing 2,000 fans into L.A.’s arena should bring some normalcy back into this historic battle, and even visiting head coach Brad Stevens is excited about it.

“This is the first game the Lakers will have fans, and I'm glad, because the game in Boston was eerie,” Stevens said ahead of the late-night tip-off. “We played in front of nobody. I think we played 75 games before we had fans back in Boston, whether it was in the bubble or at home, but there was one that stood out above all others, and how eerie it felt, and that was the Lakers game. This [rivalry matchup] was meant for people to be here.”

This is a night when the Lakers could surely use a boost from their fans, as their rotation will be paper-thin due to some key absences. Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Andre Drummond and Markieff Morris are all out, while Dennis Schroder is a game-time decision, according to Lakers head coach Frank Vogel. That means LA could be without four of its starters, making the presence of its sixth man in the stands all the more important.

However, even with all of those absences, Stevens anticipates a hot-blooded battle, considering the history between these two teams.

“It doesn't matter who plays, right?” Stevens pointed out. “Obviously everybody wants everybody that's available to play, and that's good, too. But all these games are always highly intense, the way it should be.

“I have a great deal of respect for who they have on their team that are playing, how they've been playing regardless of who is available, how they're coached, and certainly the tradition of the rivalry. Everybody understands what's in play in that.”

The tradition of the rivalry will feel a bit more normal than it did back on Jan. 30, as there will finally be Lakers fans back inside STAPLES Center. And surely a bunch of loyal Celtics fans, as well.

- Taylor Snow

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