Things You Already Know:
The Celtics overhauled their entire roster this summer after years of futility, completing trades for perennial All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to play with incumbent franchise player Paul Pierce. The results so far have been nothing short of spectacular as Boston has lost only three times heading into Sunday night’s showdown with the Lakers–leading the league with 25 wins.
The Celtics are led by Pierce’s 21 points to go along with 19 a piece from Allen and Garnett, forming a true three-headed monster on offense. Garnett is far and away the rebound leader on the team, pulling down almost 11 a game.
Things You Might Not Know:
While the Celtics were heralded for bringing in two all-stars, many questioned whether or not their role players were good enough to vault them into the NBA’s elite. However, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Eddie House and James Posey have played solid ball to open up the year, quieting doubters who claim the C’s are still a player or two away from being legitimate title contenders.
In addition, the Celtics have been shockingly good on defense, holding opponents to a league-best 86 points per game on only 41% shooting. KG has anchored Boston’s front line and Rondo has surprisingly become one of the team’s best defenders too. According to many experts, Paul Pierce–a player not normally praised for his defense–is playing the best defense of his career.
Despite their early success, Boston has played one of the league’s softest schedules so far while the Lakers have endured one of the toughest. Although few would argue that the Celtics’ play is a fluke, they are still relatively untested against the league’s better teams, losing their last big-game matchup to the Pistons.
Things You Need To Know:
Kevin Garnett feasted on the Lakers during his tenure with the Minnesota Timberwolves and it has been his play–perhaps more than anyone else on the Celtic’s roster–that has morphed Boston into the best team in the league. Ray Allen has similarly burned the Lakers throughout his career as L.A. has been unable to find an answer for his perfect shooting stroke.
Boston will be playing their fourth game in five nights when the two teams meet Sunday night so the Lakers have no excuse to not come out with more energy than their historic rivals. L.A. is also entering the showdown with a ton of momentum, winning 10 of their last 12 games including Friday’s blowout against the Jazz.
The Lakers have showed up big in almost every game against the top teams in the league so far this season so there’s no reason to think they won’t be ready to play in one of the most hyped games in years. With ticket prices exceeding $200 from private ticket vendors just to get into the doors at STAPLES Center, the lucky fans in attendance should be treated to quite the show.