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Lakers vs. Celtics Preview: Rivalry renewed in Christmas tradition

The league’s best rivalry is renewed this season as the NBA continues its Christmas Day tradition with a Lakers-Celtics showdown.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

After snapping their losing streak in Oklahoma City on Saturday, the Lakers will look to start a new streak. For the first time since 2008-09 and just the fifth time ever, the Celtics and Lakers will renew their rivalry on Christmas Day as one of the premier matchups of the day’s stacked schedule.

Start time and TV schedule

Who: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics

When: 2:00 p.m. PT, Dec. 25

Where: Crypton.com Arena

Watch: ABC/ESPN


Given the history between the two sides and the history of the league playing on Christmas, it’s really a surprise how rarely the two teams have played against one another on the day. The last meeting between these two teams on Christmas came in 2008 coming off their Finals matchup when the Lakers snapped a long Celtics win streak.

This meeting doesn’t feature any lengthy win streaks but does feature the Celtics as one of the top teams in the league and a Lakers team that has had some highs and is trying to come out of a low.

Saturday was a big step in the right direction and sets up a truly fascinating contest on Christmas. A new-look Lakers lineup actually matches up well with a Celtics side led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown with a host of wings on either side.

Boston has been one of the best teams in the league this season, led by their ability to score from beyond the arc. Cleaning The Glass has the Celtics as the team with the highest 3-point shooting frequency overall, including the top non-corner shooting frequency. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good at corner 3-point shooting as they rank second in that rea in accuracy.

The counter to that is that they don’t score at the rim, ranking 27th in frequency and 30th in short midrange frequency. It’s a modern team built on beating teams on the perimeter and using the defense’s focus on that to score timely baskets at the rim.

It’ll be a challenge for the Lakers to slow down one of the top offenses in the league, but one they could be uniquely equipped for with their new lineup. With the possibility to switch more frequently, something the team talked about after their win over the Thunder, it could lend itself to success against Boston.

LeBron James’ penchant for success against the Celtics also bears mention. For his career, he averages 29.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game against Boston in 58 contests. In six games against the Celtics as a Laker, he’s averaging 27.8 points, 8.6 assists and 8 rebounds in nine games, including 41 points in the last game against Boston that included a Patrick Beverley putback dunk and one of the worst missed calls in recent league history.

Everything about this contest has the makings for a great matchup and a potentially great present for the Lakers with a win.


Notes and Updates

  • The Lakers injury report didn’t spring any surprises. Rui Hachimura (left wrist soreness) and Jarred Vanderbilt (left heel bursitis) are both probable. Anthony Davis (left ankle sprain/bone bruise), LeBron James (left ankle peroneal tendinopathy) and Cam Reddish (left groin soreness) are questionable. Gabe Vicent is the only player listed as out with left knee effusion.
  • For the Celtics, Luke Kornet (left adductor strain) is probable and Kristaps Porzingis (left ankle sprain) is questionable as is Svi Mykhailiuk (left heel contusion) and Lamar Stevens (non-COVID illness).

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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