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NBA Game of the Week Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics: Fan’s Take
NBA Game of the Week for the Week of February 6-February 12
This week's NBA Game of the Week features two of the most storied franchises in all of sports. The Los Angeles Lakers (16) and Boston Celtics (17) have combined to win 33 of the NBA's 65 championships, including three of the last four.
Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles are in the midst of a six-game road trip and have had their troubles away from the Staples Center. The Lakers are 3-8 on the road and will try to improve to 2-1 on their current trip when they visit the Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, January 6, before facing their long-time rivals.
The Celtics have won four straight games and are now 13-10 after spending much of the season below .500. Before facing the Lakers in the game of the week, Boston will host the 3-21 Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday, January 7. If the Celtics can get a victory over the team with the worst record in the NBA, they will be riding a five-game winning streak when the Lakers come to town on Thursday, January 9.
(All statistics and records are through February 5)
Thursday, February 9, Los Angeles Lakers (14-10) at Boston Celtics (13-10), 8:00 p.m. ET on TNT
Los Angeles has a disappointing 3-8 road record and a lack of consistent energy and effort away from home may be part of the problem. To begin this season, the Lakers have hung their hats on defense.
Los Angeles currently ranks first in opponent field-goal percentage (tied with the Boston Celtics at 41.6 percent) and third in rebounding (44.3 per game). Defense is all about effort and determination, and these two statistics are one way to measure how much energy and effort a team is playing with.
At home, the Lakers grab 45.1 rebounds per game and allow their opponents to shoot just 40 percent from the floor. On the road, Los Angeles' rebounding drops to 43.5 per game and their opponents' shooting percentage jumps to 43.6 percent. These numbers suggest that the Lakers play with less energy and effort when they are away from the friendly confines of the Staples Center.
Considering the long history between the Lakers and Celtics, the Lakers should not find it too difficult to muster up some energy and effort when they visit Boston's TD Garden. But energy and effort alone will not be enough. The Lakers, who have reached the century mark just three times this season, will also have to find a way to execute their offense and score more points against a tough Boston defense to come away with a win.
If the Celtics, who have allowed an opponent to score more than 90 points just once in their last 11 games, want to end their five-game home stand with a victory over their nemeses, they will have to continue their stellar defensive play. This is especially important since the Lakers have had their offensive struggles to start the season.
Percentage wise, Boston is the best three-point shooting team in the NBA (42.7 percent). If the Celtics can hit the open three when they are presented with it, they will put additional pressure on the Lakers' struggling road defense.
The Celtics also rank first in opponent three-point field-goal percentage allowed (29.1 percent) and should have no problem limiting the Lakers' (who are one of just four teams shooting below 30 percent from beyond the arc) ability to make shots from that distance.
Both the Lakers and Celtics are solid on the defensive side of the ball. The ability to create and make open shots may prove to be the difference in this game. And since most shots will be contested during this defensive battle, the ability to make a shot with a hand in your face will be extremely beneficial. The team that finds a way to create and make open shots will be the team that walks away with the win.
Mark is a lifelong fan of the NBA who has loved the game of basketball ever since his first trip to an NBA arena. Mark has watched more basketball games than anyone can count and has more than 100 articles about the NBA published on the internet. Mark also shares his random NBA musings and game-by-game predictions on RandomNBAFan.com.
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