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Celtics look to end the road trip with a win over the Lakers

Although the rivalry isn't what it once was, the chance for the Celtics to beat the Lakers will always be special.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics (44-32) at Los Angeles Lakers (16-59)
Regular Season Game #77 Road Game #40
Sunday, April 3, 2016
9:30 PM ET
TV: CSNNE, TWC SN, Sportsnet One, NBA-LP 766(DTV)/759(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 710 AM ESPN
Staples Center

Referees: Tom Washington, Lauren Holtcamp, Leon Wood

The Celtics complete their 5 game Western swing with a game against one of their most historic rivals. Although this matchup has lost some of the luster of this rivalry, there is still something special about a game between these two storied franchises. Both teams have begun rebuilds since their last Finals meeting, with the Celtics way ahead of the Lakers. This game takes on added significance with Kobe Bryant's retirement announcement.

Kobe Bryant has been the villain on the Celtics biggest rival for 20 years and this will be the last time he faces them. When these teams met in Boston in December, there were cheers (along with a few boos) for Kobe and the Lakers beat the Celtics 112-104. They split the series last season with each team winning on their home court.

The Celtics are 19-20 on the road while the Lakers are 11-27 at home. The Lakers last played on Wednesday when they did the Celtics a favor and beat the Miami Heat 102-100 in overtime. The Celtics, of course, are coming off the biggest win of the season and they became the first team to beat the Warriors at the Oracle Arena in 54 tries. The Celtics are 2-8 in their last 10 games against the Lakers, in spite of the Celtics being the better team in several of those losses.

Five of the first 7 teams to beat the Warriors went on to lose the next game. The Celtics are fighting for playoff positioning and can't afford to let down and let a team they should clearly beat get the better of them for the second time this season. The Celtics need to come out with revenge on their mind and play with the same intensity that they did against the Warriors or the Win against Golden State will lose much of it's luster.

Jae Crowder returned for the game vs Portland and looked good in that game but rested against the Warriors the next night so as not to risk injuring the ankle once again. He is expected to play in this game. Kobe left the game in the first quarter against the Heat and is listed as questionable for this game. I would guess that with 3 days off and his biggest rival coming to town that he will at least give it a try to play. He has just 2 home games after this one also and if he can play, I think he will.

The Lakers have been shaken this past week by a video that D'Angelo Russell secretly recorded of Nick Young bragging about cheating on his fiancee being made public. There were reports of strife in the locker room and the rest of the team freezing out their young point guard. They may or may not be over it, but it didn't seem to hamper them against the Heat and probably won't hamper them in this game either.

The Celtics are now in 4th place in the East with Miami dropping to 6th as a result of their loss to Portland on Saturday night and the Hornets' loss to Cleveland on Sunday. The Celtics, Heat and Hornets are tied record-wise but the Celtics owns the tie breaker with both teams. Atlanta (3) isboth just half a game ahead of the Celtics. Detroit (7) is 3.5 games behind the Celtics. The Lakers are last in the West and are playing for ping pong balls once again this season. But for at least as long as Kobe is on the team, beating the Celtics will always take priority over ping pong balls.

Probable Starters
Point Guard: Isaiah Thomas ---------------- Shooting Guard: Avery Bradley

Center: Jared Sullinger

Small Forward: Jae Crowder ------------------ Power Forward: Amir Johnson

Celtics Reserves

Evan Turner
Jonas Jerebko
Terry Rozier
James Young
Jordan Mickey
Tyler Zeller
David Lee
RJ Hunter
Kelly Olynyk
Marcus Smart


Jae Crowder (ankle) probable

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Probable Starters
Point Guard: D'Angelo Russell -------------------- Shooting Guard: Jordan Clarkson

Center: Roy Hibbert

Small Forward: Kobe Bryant -------------------- Power Forward: Julius Randle

Lakers Reserves

Brandon Bass
Tarik Black
Marcelo Huertas
Ryan Kelly
Robert Sacre
Lou Williams
Metta World Peace
Nick Young

Anthony Brown (foot) out
Kobe Bryant (shoulder) questionable
Larry Nance, Jr (knee) probable

Head Coach
Byron Scott

Key Matchups
Jae Crowder vs Kobe Bryant
Jae is expected to play in this game after resting against the Warriors and Kobe is questionable but I expect him to play the final game against the team he faced twice in the Finals. I don't expect Jae to cut Kobe any slack even if he is retiring. Kobe is far from the player he was in his prime, but he is still leading the Lakers with 16.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists. He led the Lakers with 15 points and 11 rebounds in their earlier win over the Celtics.

Amir Johnson vs Julius Randle
Randle is one of the building blocks for the Lakers future. He is averaging 11.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists. He finished the Lakers December win over the Celtics with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Amir needs to especially keep him off the boards.

Honorable Mention

Evan Turner vs Lou Williams
Evan should be back to leading the reserves with Jae back in the starting lineup. He will need to contend with Lou Williams, who is once again in the running for 6th man of the year. He is averaging 15.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. In the first game against the Celtics, he finished with 19 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.

Keys to the Game
Focus - The Celtics can't come into this game too high from their win over the Warriors. They must focus on getting a win in this game and not rest on the laurels of the win over Golden State. They must especially focus on hitting their shots and playing team ball.

- The Lakers are 27th in the league in points allowed with 106.9 per game. The Celtics played some excellent defense against the Warriors. When the Celtics play that kind of defense, they are tough to beat. They have to play the same tough team defense that they played against the Warriors in this game. Defense wins games.

Move the Ball and Play as a Team
- The Celtics are 6th in the league with 24.1 assists per game. When they play as a team and make the extra pass to find the open man, they play very well. When the Celtics have under 20 assists they are just 13-13 but when they have over 20 assists, they are 41-18.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to be aggressive in going to the basket, in diving for loose balls, and on defense. They have to aggressively crash the boards and just play harder. They have to be the team that wants it more. They were the more aggressive team against the Warriors and they must be the more aggressive team against the Lakers. No let up!

Rebound - The Celtics were out-rebounded 52-45 in their December loss to the Lakers. Rebounding takes effort and when the Celtics slack off on rebounding, the lack of effort tends to affect other areas of their game. The Celtics must make an effort to crash the boards and limit the Lakers' possessions and second chance points.

Revenge and Motivation The Celtics should be motivated to beat the Lakers so as to gain home court in the playoffs. They also should be motivated to avenge the loss to the Lakers on their home court, a game they should have won. The Lakers may be motivated to beat an old rival, but mostly, they should be playing for more ping pong balls.

In or Out
Jae Crowder played well in his return against the Blazers. However, the Celtics lost that game. He definitely adds intensity and defense to the team, and hopefully his return won't upset the balance of the team as he seeks to get his conditioning back. Also, if Kobe is out, that may affect the Lakers chemistry.

Officiating - Officiating is a factor in every single game played in the NBA. Every crew has their own biases and their own way of officiating and many times it affects the way the game is played. Kobe made the comment in an interview that he didn't know how the Lakers won game 7 of the 2010 Finals. It's very simple. After the referees allowed both teams to play in the first 3 quarters with the Lakers shooting 16 free throws to 11 for the Celtics, they called the 4th quarter completely one sided with the Lakers shooting 21 free throws to the Celtics 6. Hopefully they will call this one fairly and let them play as they did for the most part against the Warriors.

Official Report
Tom Washington

Over his 24-season NBA officiating career, Tom Washington has officiated 1,441regular season games, 124 playoff games and four Finals games. He was a member of the crews that officiated the 1995 Schick Rookie Game, the 1996 Japan Games in Tokyo and the 2004 NBA All-Star Game. In addition to his 23 seasons with the NBA, Washington has two years of CBA officiating experience. He has one year of collegiate officiating experience in Division II and III, and five years of
high school officiating experience in his hometown of Philadelphia, officiating in the playoffs for both the men’s and women’s leagues.

There are two very badly called games that Washington called that come to mind. In a loss to the Pistons three seasons ago, Detroit shot 46 free throws to 15 for the Celtics, Rondo was ejected, and Tommy Heinsohn called it the worst officiated game all season (are you cringing yet?). In Game 2 vs the Heat in the 2012 playoffs, the Heat shot 47 free throws to 29 for the Celtics, in spite of the Celtics attacking the basket all night. There were bad calls throughout the 4th quarter and OT, all in the Heat's favor. Pierce, Pietrus, and Dooling all fouled out. LeBron was given 24 free throws all by himself. Last season in a game vs the Magic, he was terrible. There was a flagrant 2 call on Smart, which was later downgraded. There was also a terrible flagrant 1 call on Isaiah Thomas that was also later downgraded. The officiating was one sided in Orlando's favor all game. Orlando shot 30 free throws to 16 for the Celtics.

In a game at San Antonio, they pretty much let both sides play with the free throws even at 22. The Celtics are 0-2 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Washington. The Lakers are 0-5 this season and 2-8 over their last 10. His home W/L record is 36-23.

Lauren Holtcamp

Lauren Holtkamp is entering her second season having officiated 50 regular season games during her first year as a full-time staff official. Holtkamp has six seasons of NBA D-League experience and worked the 2013 and 2014 NBA D-League Finals. She also officiated four seasons in the WNBA and worked the 2014 conference finals. Additionally, Holtkamp officiated in numerous college conferences, including the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, American, Big East, and the Colonial Athletic Conference.

She also officiated various FIBA competitions, including the 2010 World University Games, and the 2012 and 2013 FIBA Americas Championships. Holtkamp graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration in 2003 and a Master
of Arts in Communication in 2004 from Drury University where she was a member of the 2003 Women’s basketball team that competed for the 2003 Division II National Championship. She went on to earn her master of divinity from Emory University in 2010.

The Celtics are 3-1 this season and 3-4 over Holtcamp's career while the Lakers are 1-1 this season and 3-2 over her career. In a game against Milwaukee last season, that she called the officiating was particularly terrible. There were missed calls on both sides all night. Even the Bucks fans were mentioning how they were getting all the calls and they couldn't believe it. Tommy was livid through the entire game and at one point said, "These refs shouldn't be calling a high school game. Tell girlie to get on home." He later apologized for calling her girlie, but wouldn't back down about how bad the refs were in that game.

She called the game this season vs OKC and the officiating was pretty good overall with a few bad calls going both ways. They pretty much let them play. She called a game at Detroit in which the Celtics shot just 24 free throws to 45 for the Pistons and the officiating was pretty much one sided. In a game vs the Magic this season, they let both teams play and if anything, they gave the Celtics the benefit of the doubt. Her home W/L record this season is 31-22.

Leon Wood

Leon Wood’s connection with the NBA began as a player when he played professionally with Philadelphia, Washington, New Jersey, San Antonio, Atlanta and Sacramento, averaging 6.4 points, 3.2 assists and 1.2 rebounds as a guard during his six-year NBA career. In addition to his NBA playing career, Wood was a member of the Gold Medal winning 1984 United States Olympic Basketball Team, and he won another Gold Medal in the 1983 Pan-Am Games. During his 19-season NBA officiating career, he has worked 1,113 regular season games and 20 playoff games. Wood has three years of CBA officiating experience and one year of collegiate officiating experience in the Ohio Valley and Trans America Athletic Conferences. He also has one year of high school officiating experience in California.

You would think that being a former player, Wood would try to be fair but he has been a fairly mediocre ref at best. Although he's been pretty good for the most part in Celtics games he has officiated, one terrible one last season stands out. Against the Magic, the Celtics were mugged all night with no calls. The Magic got the benefit of ticky tack calls. The game ended with 28 free throws for the Magic and 20 for the Celtics, but 6 of those free throws were the result of intentional fouls by the Magic down the stretch. The Celtics are 1-0 this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games with Wood officiating. The Lakers are 0-3 this season and 1-9 in their last 10 games with Wood. His home W/L record this season is 35-14.

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