Game # 52, Home Game # 28
Time: 8:00 PM EST, February 10th, 2011
Venue: TD Garden
Officials: Scott Foster Derrick Collins Scott Wall
TV: TNT, Radio: WEEI
The Line: The Celtics are 1-0 against the Lakers so far this season. Since the C's
played the Lakers on 1/30, LA is 3-1, while Boston is 2-2.
GAME THREAD | WAR ROOM
You know, there is a routine for games like these. Usually, the media will go nuts, saying things like "Boston and Los Angeles Face Off In Blood Feud", or "Celtics Play Lakers; Will Dead Rise From Grave??"
But then, someone (usually Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson, in a tag-team "summer-donna" event) will come forward and say "We can't look at it like that. Blah blah blah, its just another one of the 82 games."
The Lakers drop one to the Celtics, and Ron Artest voices his interest in a trade 1 day later. Coincidence? Come on...
Once this game is over, it will just be "1 of 82". Its not going to count any more than a game against the T-Wolves as a win or a loss, but before the game, and during, don't go telling us that it is just one more game.
In two of the last three seasons, the Celtics and Lakers have faced off in the NBA Finals, and in both of those series, it went beyond a game 5. The Celtics won the first one, and the Lakers followed that up with arguably their best season since the Shaq years. Last season, the Lakers won, in 7 games, and the Celtics are following that up with one of their most dominating and consistent regular season performances since the first season KG arrived in Boston. Don't tell me that these teams don't live to kill each other.
Both teams also have some added pressure to secure a win tonight. The Celtics are just .500 over their last six games, and are looking for some dominating wins, especially after blowing a chance to beat the Mavs at home a week ago. Also, Ray Allen, as you might have heard, is just 2 three-point shots away from breaking Reggie Miller's NBA record, which is a bit of a too-doo. Breaking Reggie's record in a loss wouldn't tarnish the memory of it long term, but it would definitely dull the moment.
The Lakers on the other hand, are thirsty to re-assert their dominance. They stormed out of the gate 13-2 through their first 15 games, but since then they've gone 27 and 14, which would be good for a roughly .600 win %, or 10th in the league.
Beyond that, the last time these two teams played, the Celtics did not just beat them, they destroyed them. The Celtics followed up a mediocre first half with a second half that Bill Walton would describe as a "double-rainbow" half. Then, when a perfect opportunity to redeem themselves in a game against the Spurs came two days later, the Lakers managed to lose on a last second Antonio McDyess tip in. To put it flatly, the Lakers need their Mojo back.
So, in that kind of context, don't tell me this isn't a blockbuster game. Don't tell me this is "just one of 82". This is Celtics-Lakers, Part Deux!
Probable Starting Line-ups
Injuries And Stuff: Shaquile O'Neal (OUT, Fell down), Marquis Daniels (OUT), Delonte West (OUT, but coming back soon), Jermaine O'Neal (OUT), Semih Erden (OUT)
Injuries And Stuff: Theo Ratliff (OUT), Matt Barnes (OUT)
Match-Up Of The Night: Kendrick Perkins V Andrew Bynum
Mock me all you want, but this match-up will decide the game. Kendrick Perkins has 6'6 (come on now.) Glen Davis and 6'7 Luke Harangody behind him, and on top of that, KG has the same two guys that need to fill in for 18 or so minutes on his own. If Perkins leaves the game due to foul trouble for a prolonged time while Andrew Bynum is still in the game, we're done. If Kendrick Perkins gets ejected with time left in a close game, we're done. If Kendrick Perkins only plays 21 minutes, we're done. We need close to 30 minutes of "good Perk" tonight, which means few fouls, good contests on boards and shots, and great pick and roll defense from the center position. Keep it together, Perk!
Three Keys To The Game For The Good Guys:
1) The Injuries Are Not The Story..The Bench Is The Story- It would be easy to give this one up early if the Celtics get down. Because of all the injuries, the odds are frankly stacked against them. Against the Bobcats, or Pacers or something, that would be forgivable. Tonight though, nobody is feeling sorry for the Celtics, least of all the Lakers. The reserves, namely Glen Davis and Nate Robinson, need to bring it to night. And we need Ritz Cracker tonight, not Vonilla Wafer (Ritz Crackers are apparently an upgrade over 'Nilla Wafers..if you want to know why, visit the War Room and ask Po).
2) Kobe Might Go Off, But Gasol And Odom Can't- Kobe Bryant isn't the player he once was in terms of raw scoring ability, but as he showed the Celtics last time, he can still pour it on. Whether or not Kobe gets 30+ points is not the death knell it might be thought to be. The real indicator is the froggy frenchman (yeah, I know he's spanish. shut up.) In games where Pau Gasol scores 20+ points, the Lakers are 21 and 4, winning a staggering 80% of their games. Garnett and Glen Davis need to play top notch D tonight from start to finish. This cannot be emphasized enough.
3) Cheer For Ray Allen- I don't care if you're in attendance, at home, or in your car, when Ray Allen breaks that record, you cheer. He is a classy, smart, dedicated athlete that leads by example. There aren't many left like him, so you enjoy this moment while you can.