Game Preview: Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers

USA TODAY Sports

The second half of the Lakers' season tips off tonight as the Celtics visit Staples Center.

Showtime

7:30 pm PST

Plot

The Boston Celtics head into Staples Center to take on the Los Angeles Lakers as they purple and gold opens up the second half of their season.

For the remainder of the season the Lakers will be wearing a commemorative patch on their jerseys in memory of the great Dr. Jerry Buss. The show must go on, and despite the heavy hearts after losing a true legend of not only the franchise, but of the city the Lakers will continue their season. This is the first game they will be playing since his passing-- only fitting that the first opponent on the Lakers schedule is Boston.

The Lakers had time to regroup during the All-Star break, but it's been anything but quiet when it comes to the Lakers. Even away from NBA action the trade rumors have only gotten louder as the trade deadline is now less than 24 hours away. The initial rumor of Howard to Boston for Rajon Rondo was shot down by Mitch Kupchak, followed by a period of silence, but the last 48 hours have turned back into a circus.

It's the NBA trade deadline. When you attach that to the Lakers, along with Howard, it was only a matter of time before it became a wild ride. But there's basketball to be played tonight, and damnit the Lakers better play it well.

Just over a week ago the Lakers visited Boston. Howard made his return after taking time away from the court to deal with his shoulder injury, the Lakers were pushing in the middle of an important road trip, and Boston completely embarrassed the purple and gold 116-95. The Lakers were 5-23 from deep and Boston took advantage of an off-balance Lakers defense. Jeff Green had 19 points off the bench, repeatedly driving through Antawn Jamison and challenging Howard to stop him once he got to the rim.

Did the break help the Lakers? It remains to be seen, but prior to the break Kobe challenged his teammates to ask themselves how much this season, and winning, meant to them. So how much does winning mean to this team of Lakers? Win or lose, one game doesn't change what the Lakers are: a team that's still not in the playoffs. They've had plenty of opportunities to put together statement wins this season and have either failed to do so.

The Celtics are coming in on the second half of a back-to-back after a losing effort against the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets hammered the C's on the glass, and despite Boston had five players in double digits, they still fell short of attaining a victory.

It will be an emotional night in Staples Center, but a regular season against the Celtics couldn't be more important. The Lakers are still 3.5 games out of the playoffs, as they have been for quite some time, and are watching time get away from them. They've had time to rest. They're at home. They have an opponent coming off of a back-to-back. This is a game for the Lakers' taking. Most importantly, and above all else.

Win this one for Dr. Jerry Buss, who always wanted the best product on the floor, and just as important to the heritage of this team: to put the Boston Celtics in the rear-view mirror.

Get after it, fellas.

On This Soundtrack

- Drew

- Follow this author on Twitter @DrewGarrisonSBN

- The Celtics have plenty of rumors going into the trade deadline, be sure to check out Celtics Blog for the latest!

- RSVP to the game, even if you're just watching on TV

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