Boston Celtics (35-11, 13-8 away) @ LA Lakers (33-14, 18-6 home)
Time: 3:30 OM EST Venue: Staples Center
Officials: Joe Crawford, Marat Kogut, Tom Washington
TV: ABC Radio: WEEI, ESPN
The Line: Both the Celtics and Lakers are 2-2 over their last 4, this will be the first meeting since the refs Lakers beat the Celtics in game 7 of the NBA finals last summer.
I wanted to call this pre-game article "Lord(s) of the Rings in reference to LA and Boston fighting over championship rings, but after Friday night's loss to the Suns I felt like we needed an article with a title that has the flavor of "rebirth". Just like the mythical bird called The Phoenix, I want us to rise from the ashes of Friday night's defeat and turn those burnt remains into a powerful vengeful bird (Larry Bird if you so choose). A bird to swoop into Fakerville and deposit (Larry) Bird droppings on the putrid Purple and Gold one more time.
As many of you know, the all-time regular season record of the Lakers vs Celtics currently stands at 152-120 in favor of the Celtics. Sure it feels to good to know that bit of trivia, and I will get a kick out of KG's new "152-120" shoes for the game, but in all reality it matters not where the all-time regular season record stands today. I just want to BEAT LA each and every time we face them, and ultimately I want the BIG trophy back!
Last time we came to Fakerville, the NBA Championship trophy would not not bound for the East Coast, Banner 18 would not be raised in the Garden, and sadly, both Perk and our Celtic Pride left the city of fools gold badly wounded. But the war isn't over, it's never over, and I still want revenge. Unfortunately, you can't get true revenge in late January in downtown LA - at any price. You can get Clippers tickets cheap in January, but not real Laker revenge.
Some will say this is a game that the Celtics could send a message to the Lakers that if we meet once again in the NBA Finals we will not fail this time to grab the ring and crush them with yet another trophy. I say this is not a 'send a message" type game. This is simply a road game in a tough place to play, and I just want to win and then silently leave.
I guess we could go ahead and tell the Lakers right now that we have secretly purchased Ron Artest's Championship gold ring and Frodo Rondo is fully prepared to throw it back into the fires of LA Mordor should we meet again in the Battle of the NBA Finals, unless of course Joey "Gollum" Crawford would steal it from us again. (see I knew I could work in a Lord of the Rings reference). I say "No" to that disclosure as well. We should just be silent and concentrate on simply winning this afternoon. We have too much work to do back East with Miami, Chicago and Orlando before we try to send a message to anyone, especially while hanging out in Wild West in late January.
I don't want drama for this game. I don't want chest pounding. I don't want flagrant fouls, or our team complaining too much. I certainly don't want a Kurt Rambis clothesline play to show our toughness (fake or real). I don't want the referees controlling this game (yeah I know I want a lot). I just want to thoroughly beat the Fakers in every aspect of the game at both ends of the court today. Simply put: BEAT LA, slap Jack Nicholson and Dyan "Orc" Cannon in the face a few times and let us fly out of Mordor on the wings of a solid victory.Let's take a quick look at the Tale of the Tape. The Lakers and the Celtics are both 7-3 in their last 10 games. They are both coming off a loss, and each have a one game losing streak. Both teams have lost 8 road games. The Lakers have lost 6 Home games compared to 3 for Boston. LA is 6.5 games behind San Antonio for the Western Conference best record, while Boston sits atop the Eastern Conference with the best record.
Anything new in LA this fine Sunday? Well Phil Jackson says this is his last season coaching? Really? Again? Do us all a favor and just retire already. Andrew Bynum has been hurt early this season but is now back and playing without pain. Shocking new news there isn't it? Oh, and Kobe Bryant scored 38 points in a loss Friday and he is once again a starter on the Western Conference All-Star team (yawn). Ron Artest is having a poor year thus far. He apparently has been busy trying to raffle off some of his old Rap CD's to raise money for the Charlie Sheen's Mental Instability Rehab Fund Thank you Ronnie for your contribution to all of humanity.
However, there is something new and wonderful going on in LA today. It is an event that I would have never suspected to happen. What's that you ask? Shaq is in a green Celtic jersey playing in the Staples Center and I will be rooting for him! It really is a "Small World After All" out by LA Disneyland. He won't be wearing a purple and gold #34 but instead he will be wearing #36 XXXLL (LL = Large Leprechaun). I just hope the referees let him play a little before fouling him out. The guy can't seem to move without getting a foul called on him lately and it's getting old. Let's see if the old man can hang with Andrew "Short Season" Bynum for a bit. Perk on Bynum is more my style however.
The Lakers have a few injuries like Matt Barnes and Theo "perpetually injured" Ratliff at age 68, but for the most part their key players are intact. They practiced Saturday for 2 1/2 hours in preparation for this game, and I am sure they will be ready to rumble. The Celtics hopefully got rested just a bit from Friday's long day, and can thus muster a big game in front of a big over-dressed crowd.
Is Pierce hurt worse than we know? Is Big Baby hamstrung? Who knows. It is what it is, so let's get it on in Fakerville. Nationally televised ABC games on a Sunday afternoon for the Celtics generally do not produce the results we want, so I am feeling some extra butterflies today in wanting a win. Deep breathes Frodo.
Injuries And Stuff: Jermaine O'Neal (OUT), Delonte West (OUT)
Injuries and Stuff: Matt Barnes (OUT), Theo Ratliff (OUT)
The Key Match-ups (Isn't everything key?)
Doc vs. Phil (not Dr Phil) - Doc has to use his somewhat depleted troops wisely today. He may need the luck of a new hot hand off the bench, especially if Big Baby is nursing that hamstring in street clothes. I would love to see Doc use a little more Von Wafer today in slashing to basket using his speed and drawing fouls, much like a young Tony Allen. I can't believe I said that - asking for more Von. I hope Doc can find some spark off the bench today, and ride it awhile. He has to be extra cautious of too many 1st half minutes for the starters, especially if Shaq gets in early foul trouble and Pek carries the load. Doc needs to make Phil use his bench early, by forcing the action in the paint and drawing fouls (if we can get the calls). Oh yeah Doc, we could use Less Nate.
Rondo vs Fisher/Blake - If aggressive Rondo shows up today and penetrates well, then we should have no problems getting our open shots today. Neither Blake nor Fisher can stay with Rondo and I want to see early dishes and assists from Rondo to Shaq/Perk/KG in the paint and Ray outside. Rondo can control this game - if he only will.
KG vs Gasol - Because Ron Artest can usually shut down Paul Pierce offensively, we need KG at both ends today to come up extra big. We need points from KG, we need rebounding from KG and we need him to minimize Gasol's impact on the offensive boards. I hate Gasol getting those offensive boards against us. We are not going to stop Kobe, as he will get his points, but we have to minimize Gasol today on both ends.
Referees vs Celtics - For all that is holy, please let us play the game today without hating on us too much, and fouling us out. You are not the game! We must keep our composure as well.
I am not too worried for some reason about Lamar Kardashian today. I would love to see a Luke vs Luke matchup just to see those two hairstyles next to each other (Pretty Red LA Curls vs. Marine Celtic All Business Shorthairs).
Let's just win.....BEAT LA - BEAT LA - BEAT LA............