Lakers at Celtics: 3 Things to Know (11/8/17)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers take on the rival Boston Celtics.
1) This is the first chapter of the future of Laker-Celtics
On one end you have Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. The other has Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum.
That’s one first-overall pick, two seconds, two thirds and one 27th who is making a strong case for Rookie of the Year.
Not since the days of Kobe, Pau, Garnett and Pierce has the Lakers-Celtics rivalry been this exciting.
Listen for the Boston faithful give Ball a hearty booing during introductions, as the TD Garden crowd will relish jeering the key to the future of their greatest rivals.
While Ball has struggled with his own shot at the beginning of his career, he has done a nice job of directing the offense in a pace-pushing fashion, while also making a dent on the boards and defensively.
He will have to be especially locked in to contain Irving — one of the league’s top offensive threats — who dropped 35 points in Monday’s win over Atlanta and jump-starts fast-breaks by swiping the league’s third-most steals (2.18).
2) The young small forwards have been crucial for their teams
While most eyes will be on the point guard battle, the game could hinge on Ingram and the player who replaced him as Duke’s starting small forward last year: Tatum.
Ingram has hit (literally) his stride by using his length to elevate his game this year. With his long-legged drives to the hoop and wingspan-stretching steals, the 20-year-old has been able to make a greater impact on both ends of the floor.
Meanwhile, Tatum already boasts a polished scoring arsenal just a few weeks into his NBA career. The rookie has shown excellent footwork and a consistent jumper, allowing him to average 14.3 points and shoot the NBA’s sixth-best 3-point percentage (52.9).
Toss in Kuzma’s red-hot offense inside the arc (68.5 percent shooting) and Brown’s status as Boston’s second-leading scorer, and there is a healthy amount of talent developing for the future of this rivalry.
3) Brook Lopez is stil wrecking opposing defenses
Over the past three games, only seven other players in the league are averaging more than Brook Lopez’s 27.3 points.
During this breakout, Lopez has been great on post-ups and in pick-and-rolls, but his greatest value has come from beyond the arc, where he has shot 11-of-19 on 3-pointers.
The Lakers will need that kind of firepower against Boston, which ranks first in the NBA in defensive efficiency and is holding its opponents to a league-low 94.5 points per game.
In fact — even after losing All-Star Gordon Hayward to a gruesome injury in the season opener — the Celtics have arguably been the league’s most impressive team, entering this contest on a nine-game win streak.
For the 5-5 Lakers, a victory would not only give them a winning record; it would also legitimize their fast start by taking down an opponent that has steamrolled through the beginning of the year.
Lakers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (left hip strain) is probable. Andrew Bogut (back tightness) is questionable. Larry Nance Jr. (fractured second metacarpal, left hand) is out.
Celtics: Gordon Hayward (left ankle fracture) is out.
Tip-Off: 5 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes in L.A. ESPN nationally
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Location: TD Garden — Boston, Massachusetts