Tip-off: 8 p.m.
Records: Celtics (38-13), Lakers (36-16)
Broadcast info: TNT, WEEI
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Kendrick Perkins
PG: Derek Fisher
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Ron Artest
PF: Pau Gasol
C: Andrew Bynum
Captain obvious: Where to begin? It’s the Lakers. It doesn’t take Dr. Jack Ramsay to figure these out. The true Finals rematch came a couple of weeks ago at Staples Center, when the Celtics handed the Lakers a 109-96 loss. The Celtics had Shaq for that game, though the big man played only 13 minutes. The Lakers got 12 points out of Pau Gasol on 13 shots. Think they want to get their second-best option a few more looks this game?
Walking wounded: The captain of a 30-and-over men’s league wouldn’t feel all that comfortable in Doc Rivers’s shoes right now. Rivers has 10 healthy players at his disposal, two of which are rookies (Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody). The C’s don’t currently have a backup for Paul Pierce. This is the time of year where the Celtics might be looking to rest Pierce and Ray Allen, but right now they can’t do it.
Two more: Speaking of Allen, he’s just two 3-pointers shy of breaking Reggie Miller’s all-time mark of 2,560. Miller will be in the building tonight. He’s been very congratulatory of Allen in recent published comments as well as on Twitter. It would be great for Ray to break the record on this kind of stage.
It’s hard not to get into Finals preview mode when these two teams play. Based on what we saw in January and what we’ve seen from these two squads all season, a brief look at the matchups if both teams employed a playoff-style rotation.
Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Nate Robinson
Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake
Expect Kobe Bryant to spend a lot of time guarding Rajon Rondo, while Derek Fisher takes Ray Allen. Allen does a good job on Bryant (as well as anyone can), but guarding Kobe will take its toll. The two 3-pointers Allen needs to break Reggie Miller’s record aren’t a given tonight. As we also saw last week in LA, the Celtics are a completely different team when Rondo takes over like he did in the second half of that game.
Celtics: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis
Lakers: Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest
Artest’s numbers are up a bit in four games in February, but that isn’t going to make him more desirable in a trade. He’s struggled this season, and the Lakers are saddled with his hefty contract. The Lakers are at their best when Gasol is getting touches in the paint. The Celtics, likewise, are at their best when Garnett is a reliable option in the post. That frees up Pierce to be an assassin without having to take too many shots. Davis might be the NBA’s sixth man of the year. Odom likes to eat a lot of candy.
Celtics: Kendrick Perkins
Lakers: Andrew Bynum
Bynum’s name resonates more with Celtics fans lately because of trade rumors that have him in a potential deal to the Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony. However much merit those rumors have, they bring up the discussion of Bynum’s value, and the value of true centers as a whole. Is Bynum the future of the Lakers, or a part that can be moved? Is Bynum more valuable to an NBA team than Perkins? How much more?