The Los Angeles Lakers begin their first true road trip of the season by paying a visit to an old enemy, the Boston Celtics, Wednesday night. The purple and gold are taking a top-10 defense and .500 recording into TD Garden, and hopefully come out looking even stronger after upsetting their long-time rival.
The Celtics have the best defense in the entire NBA, suffocating opponents to the tune of 95.9 points allowed per 100 possessions. There’s essentially no chance that holds up through 82 games, but right now, that’s the level they’re playing at as a group.
That stifling defense has led them to a 9-2 record, despite the fact that Gordon Hayward’s season snapped just five minutes into his Celtics career. That’s put even more pressure on Kyrie Irving to take control of the team. Uncle Drew is averaging 22.3 points, 5.7 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, and life away from LeBron James has been good to him thus far.
This is a big moment for the Lakers, who should be hyping Kentavious Caldwell-Pope up to play the defensive game of his life while matching up with Kyrie. It’s also a big test for Lonzo Ball, who surely won’t be able to avoid matching up with Irving even if the plan is for KCP — head coach Luke Walton hasn’t said it, but it’s coming — to check him as often as possible all night.
If the Lakers can turn the corner and get above .500, with a win over the Celtics, it’d be an amazing way to start this trip with some serious momentum. Considering they immediately travel to D.C. to face the Washington Wizards in a back-to-back, beating Boston might be the key to how these next four outings play out.
Enjoy the game!
Time: 4:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN