The Lakers and Celtics are going into today’s game from different stages of development from a franchise perspective. Both stages are positive, but one of them has a more immediate payoff than the other. Either way, the conversation surrounding this game is that both franchises are tied at 3,252 wins a piece, and if the Celtics win, it will end the Lakers’ 16-year position as the “winningest” team of all. time.
The Los Angeles Lakers already have the same number of wins this season as they did throughout the 2016 season (17). That doesn’t really say much because a 17-36 record still isn’t close to playoff potential. They would have to go with an unprecedented and absolute tear to even snag the eighth seed. The Suns are the only team below them in the Western Conference (15-34). Although their record is still terrible, the franchise is on the rise because that means they are better than last season. It may be a slight rebound, but it is improving nonetheless.
The Lakers’ rebound parallels the development of the team’s young players. Other teams would love to have a young core like Julius Randle, Deangelo Russell and Brandon Ingram. With a little experience, those guys will be a force to be reckoned with. Perhaps adding Magic Johnson to head office will help the franchise make the right decisions to help these guys get some wins.
The Boston Celtics are sitting at 31-18, just 2.5 games behind the best team in the East and defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Last year they were 32-23 at the All-Star break, so things are looking pretty good for them in terms of record. They entered the playoffs as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, only to be eliminated in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks. Unlike the Lakers, the Celtics are practically guaranteed a playoff spot.
The Celtics’ recent success is attributed to the quick little man named Isaiah Thomas. Their game in the fourth quarter has helped them win games like you wouldn’t believe; it has an average of 19 points in the fourth quarter of January. Its size doesn’t slow it down at all. He’s fast enough to get to his spots, and whether he’s open or not, he can pass the ball through the net. It has been very exciting to see him get back to business in Boston.
Even though this game is an all-time tiebreaker for the franchise, the Lakers / Celtics rivalry should also increase the intensity in this game. The two franchises have a long history together, but they also look drastically different from when they were legitimate championship contenders. The rivalry hides under the rug when one of the teams has no chance of making the playoffs. Perhaps the young Lakers will use that story as inspiration and motivation to go out and get a big win tonight! That would be exciting to watch. However, the Lakers just don’t have that will to win like they did when they had Kobe Bryant (healthy). So, I see the Celtics crushing the Lakers in Boston tonight by about 20 or 30 points.