Preview: Lakers at Celtics
The Los Angeles Lakers are at the center of a media circus in front of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, and the rumors seem to be getting to some of the young players on the team. The Lakers might look like a completely different team when they visit the rival Boston Celtics on Thursday.
Los Angeles is reportedly in hot pursuit of disgruntled New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis to pair with superstar LeBron James and offered up just about every young player on the roster in negotiations, including Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball. The rumors left the Lakers looking lifeless at Indiana on Tuesday, when they suffered the worst loss of James’ career 136-94 while Ingram and company were serenaded with “LeBron’s gonna trade you” chants at the free-throw line. The Celtics, who would very much like to get into the Davis trade discussions but have to wait until July 1 to pair him with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, are winners of 10 of their last 11 games and eased past the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-96 on the road Tuesday despite missing Irving, center Aron Baynes and forward Marcus Morris. “That’s what makes us so dangerous, that we have depth in that aspect, where we can bring guys off the bench and we can sit guys, or we can go without guys, and guys are going to step up and have a good game,” Boston guard Marcus Smart told reporters.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT, Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE LAKERS (27-27): James sat on the end of the bench with several empty seats between him and the rest of his teammates toward the end of Tuesday’s setback and acknowledged that what the young players are going through isn’t easy. “I know it has to be tough on a lot of our guys, especially our young guys,” James told reporters. “Right now, they’ve just never been a part of it and they’re hearing it every single day — and I know that the worst thing that you can do right now is be on social media. And I know all young guys love social media. So, that definitely can’t help.” The Lakers dropped 13 of 20 games since James went down with a groin injury on Dec. 25 and sit in 10th place in the Western Conference.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (35-19): Boston is not expected to make any big moves in front of Thursday’s deadline and already enjoys enviable depth on a team that took James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference finals last season. “I think it should stay the same,” Morris told the Boston Herald of the team’s roster. “Guys are playing into what’s going on, (the All-Star Game) is about to pass and that’s when it ramps up. Guys want to play the way they’re supposed to during winning time, like we did last year when the intensity picked up. We should stay the same.” One difference from last season is the health of swingman Gordon Hayward, who is battling some inconsistency but put up 18 points on 9-of-14 shooting, six rebounds and five assists off the bench on Tuesday.
1. Irving (hip) and Morris (knee soreness) are both day-to-day.
2. James (32,008) became the fifth player in NBA history to reach 32,000 points on Tuesday.
3. The teams split the two meetings last season, with each protecting homecourt.