LOS ANGELES - If the Celtics plan to come back to Boston with an NBA championship in hand, they'll have to do something no one else has done in the postseason: Beat the Lakers at home.
The Celtics own a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven NBA Finals, with Game 3 tonight at the Staples Center. The next three games are scheduled for Los Angeles, where the Lakers are 8-0 this postseason. They were 30-11 at the Staples Center in the regular season and haven't lost there since March 28 against Memphis.
"They took care of business at home, and we've got to go home and try to do the same thing," said Kobe Bryant. "It's not the end of the world. We've come too far to really sweat being down, 2-0. We're going to go home and handle our business."
Los Angeles is two wins shy of tying the NBA record for most consecutive home victories in one postseason. Six teams, including the 1986 Celtics, have won 10 straight.
Since moving to Staples Center in 1999, the Lakers have won 82 percent of their playoff games there (53-12).
"It's tough to say what's going to happen, but our mind-set has got to be the same," Celtics guard Ray Allen said. "We're not going to change what we've been doing."
Said Celtics forward Paul Pierce, "We did our job, we held home court. We're not settling on a 2-0 lead. We want to go out there and win two games in LA. That's our focus, and that's what we want to go out there and try to do."
The Celtics won an NBA-best 31 road games in the regular season, including a 110-91 decision Dec. 30 against the Lakers. They then lost their first six road games of the playoffs before winning two of three in Detroit in the Eastern Conference finals.
"We've played well of late on the road, so that gives us confidence," coach Doc Rivers said.
Asked if he was worried about which road Celtics team would show up, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said, "I'm not worried about which Celtics team shows up. I'm worried about what Lakers team shows up. That's the one that moves the ball and we do things well on the offensive end, and you saw that as [Game 2] progressed that we started finding our rhythm on the offense."
Cassell day-to-dayCeltics backup point guard Sam Cassell is day to day after spraining his right wrist during Game 2 Sunday night. Cassell, who has been doing some occasional icing, is averaging 4 points and 1 assist in 19.1 minutes in the Finals. If Cassell can't play, the Celtics can go to veteran Eddie House, who has not played in the Finals. Rookie point guard Gabe Pruitt has not played in any postseason games . . . While the game time is still the same in Boston, Game 3 tonight will be different for the teams, as it begins at 6 p.m. Pacific time. The Celtics will have a walk-through shootaround at their Beverly Hills hotel this morning . . . Lakers legend Jerry West had the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy in hand when he arrived at Los Angeles International Airport yesterday . . . Randy Auerbach, daughter of Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach, who lives in Los Angeles, is expected to attend tonight's game.
Marc J. Spears can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org