It's one of the greatest rivalries in sports. When the Los Angeles Lakers (36-16) visit the Boston Celtics (38-13) at TD Garden tonight (8PM on TNT), there will be a lot on the line. Should the two teams meet in the NBA Finals again, home-court advantage may be the deciding factor. So a win tonight will boost one team's hopes of taking home yet another Larry O'Brien Trophy.
The rivarly was reinvigorated when the Celtics added Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, and the Lakers added Pau Gasol in the 2007-2008 season. Prior to that, fans at the TD Garden were chanting M-V-P for Kobe Bryant in a January 31, 2007, game.
Oh, how things have changed.
Tonight's meeting between these two storied franchises should be a good one.
Here's what to expect:
- A Determined Kobe Bryant
The Black Mamba has a chip on his shoulder after the Lakers' lackluster performance against the Celtics at Staples Center on Jan. 30, so expect an inspired effort. Bryant dropped 41 points against the Celtics, but had a goose egg in the assist column. Tonight, Kobe will get more players involved.
- Ray Allen Will Break the 3-Point Record
With Reggie Miller on hand calling the game for TNT, Allen will break Miller's record of 2,560 career 3-pointers by knocking down two jumpers from beyond the arch to energize the TD Garden crowd, while cementing his place in Celtics lore.
- Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, Craig Sager and Reggie Miller Will Ramble about Trade Talks
Instead of calling the action, the TNT broadcasters will irritate viewers by straying from the game and discussing trade rumors circling Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest, and the far-fetched possibility that Carmelo Anthony will be wearing a Lakers uniform sometime soon.
- The Lakers Will Go Down Low
With Bynum eager to prove his worth amid trade speculation, and Gasol coming off a subpar performance in his last meeting with the Celtics, Phil Jackson will emphasize low-post scoring. The Celtics are thin defensively down low with Kendrick Perkins coming off knee surgery, and the O'Neals (Shaquille and Jermaine) not suiting up.
- Doc Rivers Will Run the Offense Through Paul Pierce
This has certainly been an exceptional season for Paul Pierce, so expect more touches than usual from No. 34 tonight. He's shooting a career-best 50.6% from the field, and is just a hair below last season's career high of 85.2% from the free-throw line (85%). Perhaps lacking the athleticism he once had, the 13-year veteran more than makes up for it with his sharp basketball sense. In the last Lakers-Celtics meeting, Pierce dropped 32 points on 11-of-18 shooting.
NOTES: In their last meeting, the Celtics shot 60.3 percent from the field in a 109-96 win ... The Lakers have won four of five regular-season meetings in Boston, including the last two by one point each....Of the 64 NBA championships, the Celtics and Lakers have won a combined 33, with the Celtics winning 17, and the Lakers winning 16.