The Los Angeles Lakers will have their last clash with the Boston Celtics on mind when their archenemies visit Staples Center for a rematch on Tuesday.
On Nov. 19, The Celtics routed the Lakers 130-108 at TD Garden after the visitors put in one of the team’s worst defensive performances in recent time. The Celtics had no trouble getting into the paint, outscoring L.A. 56-36 from inside the key.
They also dominated the glass, grabbing 51 rebounds while Los Angeles managed to get just 33 themselves. Jayson Tatum put on a show, scoring 37 points and collecting 11 boards while Marcus Smart and former Lakers guard Dennis Schroder chipped in 22 and 21 points, respectively.
L.A. will have the usual group without Trevor Ariza and Kendrick Nunn available on Tuesday to ensure they don’t lose the season series to their bitter rivals. Boston’s Jaylen Brown was questionable to make an appearance having missed the last two games with a hamstring injury.
Among the Lakers’ priorities for the night, they first and foremost must exert more pressure in the paint and hurt the Celtics from beyond the arc. Boston ranks in the bottom 10 in 3-point attempts (36.8 per game) this year but rakes in the fourth-most rebounds (46.5 per game).
In other words, if L.A.’s triples go wayward, their rivals will likely get the ball back in their hands — hence smart short selection from downtown will be crucial to avenge last month’s loss.
While defending the paint, L.A. needs to avoid presenting Boston with unnecessary free throw opportunities. The Celtics make the most shots from the charity stripe in the NBA this season (17.6 per game) and boast the best free-throw shooting percentage (82.6%).
The number of fouls the Lakers gave up in the recent loss to the L.A. Clippers hurt them profoundly last week. Keeping hands to themselves when Boston shoots the ball should make for one of the main goals during the Tuesday game.
While the Celtics often get to the free-throw line, they also like to return the favor — giving up 21.8 attempts from the charity stripe per night, the fourth-most in the league. LeBron James and Russell Westbrook should capitalize on that weakness and attack the basket throughout the night, ideally in transition after a good play on the other end of the floor.
The 13-11 Celtics own an average offense and a decent defense but go for the jugular if they smell blood, which the Lakers learned the hard way a few weeks ago.
This time around, L.A. must be the more aggressive, determined, and smarter side on the floor if they don’t want a wide grin to reappear on Schroder’s face during a postgame interview upon his comeback to Staples Center.
Lakers (12-12) vs. Celtics (13-11)
7:00 p.m. PT, Dec. 7, 2021
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: TNT, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Talen Horton-Tucker
SF: LeBron James
PF: Anthony Davis
C: Dwight Howard
Key Reserves: Austin Reaves, Carmelo Anthony, Malik Monk, Rajon Rondo, Wayne Ellington, Avery Bradley
Projected Celtics Starting Lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Grant Williams
C: Robert Williams III
Key Reserves: Enes Freedom, Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, Al Horford, Payton Pritchard
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