The Boston Celtics have seen better days. Despite a solid 25-8 start, they have dropped six of their previous eight contests. Now, the Boston Celtics play host to the top team in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers. If there were ever a time for a statement win to get back on track, that time is upon them.
Boston Celtics Aim to Bounce Back Versus Rival Los Angeles Lakers
The downslide started right out of the gate at the beginning of the new decade and has lasted for half a month. The Celtics held on to one of the best records in the entire NBA before dropping six of eight contests to mostly inferior competition. Losses to the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers — as painful as those Eastern Conference losses might be — are at least understandable and somewhat expected. However, losses to the likes of the Washington Wizards, Detroit Pistons, and Phoenix Suns are inexcusable, even on Boston’s worst days.
However, everything can change with one Monday night victory.
Los Angeles Lakers.
A STORIED RIVALRY.
— NBA (@NBA) January 20, 2020
When the Celtics and Lakers play, the whole NBA world tunes in. The most historic rivalry in the league is back for its latest edition tonight in the T.D. Garden in Boston. The Lakers will likely be the favorites in the contest, boasting the second-best record in the NBA behind a roster led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Under any other circumstances, it would likely just be another fun regular-season matchup. For the Celtics, though, this is virtually a must-win contest.
What’s on the Line for the Boston Celtics
For the Celtics to be considered legitimate contenders like they were just weeks ago, they must find a way to notch this victory. They came up just shy of a victory over the top team in the entire NBA just days ago as they fell by five on the road at Milwaukee. Now they’ve got a shot at redemption against the Lakers.
The Celtics are still clinging to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and are just a game and a half out of second place. However, the Indiana Pacers and the 76ers are hot on their trail for their current spot. In a race as tight as this, every win counts.
So does every loss, and the Celtics have racked up plenty in the past month. In their latest contest, the Celtics squandered a Herculean effort by Marcus Smart — 37 points on 11 made three-pointers with 8 rebounds and 5 assists — to lose a 123-119 decision to the Suns at home. Prior to that, the Celtics fell in the aforementioned contest with the Bucks despite Kemba Walker putting up 40 points and 11 rebounds.
Of course, the Celtics have been riddled with injuries over the span, but it’s time for them to turn the corner.
Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers Preview
The Lakers come into the contest as a two-point favorite. ESPN’s BPI gives each team virtually an equal chance in the matchup, giving the Lakers just a 50.5 percent chance to win. Injuries will play a significant factor in the matchup, as Lakers star Anthony Davis was initially ruled out but has now been upgraded to active, and Boston’s Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown are listed as day-to-day. Rajon Rondo will also be out for the Lakers.
The Lakers just announced that Anthony Davis will be available for tonight’s game against the Celtics.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) January 20, 2020
Walker missed a contest with knee soreness in Saturday’s loss to the Suns, while Brown has missed two games with a thumb injury. Davis has missed the last five games for the Lakers, but they’ve managed a 4-1 record without him. In fact, the Lakers have won 10 of their last 11 games dating back to their Christmas day loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The injury bug has hit both teams, but they’re still trending in opposite directions. If the potentially short-handed Celtics can find a way to knock off the red-hot Lakers, they will gain back all the respect they’ve lost over the past month. It will be a real test for both teams as they both continue their quest for yet another title to add to their already over-full trophy cases.
Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
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