(Photo By: Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)
Lakers at Celtics: 3 Things to Know (2/7/19)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers’ rivalry matchup with the Boston Celtics.
1) King and Kyrie add a new dimension to the rivalry
Three years after bringing Cleveland its long-awaited championship, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving will face off for the first time as opponents in basketball’s greatest rivalry.
So far, James has owned the head-to-head matchup with his former teammate. He has gone 8-1 against Irving: six straight wins with Miami before joining Irving in Cleveland, and two of three since Kyrie bolted for Boston.
Both men enter this matchup among the NBA’s elite, having been selected to start in next week’s All-Star Game. James has not played enough games to qualify, but would rank among the NBA’s top 10 in points and assists, while Irving is in the top 15 for scoring, dimes and steals.
2) Lakers will have to bounce back without Bullock
L.A. added some reinforcements on Wednesday by trading for sharpshooter Reggie Bullock, who gives the team a much-needed 3-point threat.
But Bullock is scheduled to join the Lakers for Sunday’s game, meaning they will have to rely on the original crew to recover from Tuesday’s clunker in Indiana.
LeBron (18 points, nine assists, seven rebounds) and JaVale McGee (16 points, 7-of-8 shooting) put forward strong individual efforts, but turnovers and 3-point defense sunk the Lakers to their worst loss of the year.
It will take a much crisper effort to take down a Boston squad that is playing some of the league’s best ball right now.
3) Boston’s in bulldozer mode
The Celtics are on a tear, having won 10 of their last 11 games.
As with the entire season, Boston has leaned on its elite defense to overwhelm opponents. But the offense has kicked into an extra gear of late.
Irving is having arguably his best stretch of the year, averaging 29.7 points, 10.1 assists and 46.7 percent 3-point shooting over his last seven games.
Sophomore Jayson Tatum is coming off a 25-point performance. Al Horford is hitting everything lately, including his patented mid-range shots. And Marcus Morris is having a breakout season, especially when it comes to cashing beyond the arc.
Lakers: LeBron James (load management), Kyle Kuzma (left hip strain) and Ivica Zubac (avulsion fracture, left middle finger) are probable. Josh Hart (left knee patellar tendinitis) is questionable. Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain) and Reggie Bullock (not with team) out. Isaac Bonga, Alex Caruso and Johnathan Williams are on G League assignment.
Celtics: Robert Williams (low back soreness) is questionable. Aron Baynes (left foot contusion) and Jabari Bird (personal reasons) are out.
Tip-Off: 5 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet in L.A. TNT nationally
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: Gold Icon
Location: TD Garden — Boston, Massachusetts
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