Celtics-Lakers Preview: One game at a time

Celtics-Lakers Preview: One game at a time

Inside the Boston Celtics locker room moments after their shocking win over previously unbeatable Golden State Friday night, the kind of euphoria ensued that you would expect to see at the Final Four.

“We were having fun,” Celtics guard Avery Bradley admitted afterwards. “Everybody was dancing, smiling.”

But the feel-good vibes soon died down when the reality of who they are – a team still needing to win games in order to clinch a playoff berth – soon set in.

Boston (44-32) is mired in a four-team logjam with one of them emerging as the third seed in the East. With things so tight, the Celtics need to come away victorious against the teams they’re supposed to beat … like the Los Angeles Lakers (16-59).

When the Celtics embarked on their current five-game West coast trip, tonight’s game against the Lakers was at the time – and still is – the one game that offers them the greatest opportunity for a victory. But as we’ve seen with the Celtics this season, there’s no such thing as a sure-fire win having lost to a number of lottery-bound clubs such as Orlando (119-114 on Jan. 31), Milwaukee (112-111 on Feb. 9) and Minnesota (124-122 on Feb. 22).

Even with the experience of losing to sub-.500 teams, there’s still a legitimate concern about the Celtics coming into tonight’s game overconfident or not taking the Lakers as serious as they should.

Prior to Boston leaving Golden State’s Oracle Arena Friday night, Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas didn’t mince words with his teammates when it came to stressing the importance of tonight’s game.

“We got a big win tonight,” Thomas recalled telling them. “But we can’t lose on Sunday. We have to come out, knowing they got us at our place last time and use that as motivation.”

Boston lost 112-104 to the Lakers on Dec. 30, which snapped a four-game Celtics winning streak. More significant, it became the jumping-off point for a series of less-than-stellar performances by Boston, which went on to lose five of its next six games following the Lakers loss.

But that was many months ago. More on the minds of folks now is how the Celtics shined brilliantly in the biggest game of the season at Golden State which won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

But against the Lakers, losers in eight of their last 10 games, there’s not nearly as much buzz other than this being Kobe Bryant’s final game against longtime nemesis, the Boston Celtics.

Whether it’s a nationally televised game or one that’s played in a near-empty arena in Philadelphia, the Celtics aren’t good enough to take any team – even the Lakers – for granted.

“The level of lights is the same every night for me,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “You play 82 (regular season games) and you have to perform 82 times. That’s part of our job.”

Bradley echoed similar sentiments.

“We know it was just one game,” Bradley said. “We have to use this game to motivate us to keep building. These last games we have, every single game is important to us.”

Jaylen Brown after concussion: 'My mom definitely said no more dunking'

Jaylen Brown after concussion: 'My mom definitely said no more dunking'

In his first meeting with the media since suffering an ugly concussion, Jaylen Brown was willing to make jokes about the moment which terrified Boston Celtics players and fans.

"Yeah, my mom definitely said no more dunking," Brown said Thursday at Celtics shootaround. "That's what she told me."

But it wasn't all jokes from Brown, who said he was eyeing a return for Sunday's game against the Kings. The Boston Celtics forward was frank about the severity of the moment.


"I think it's just a blessing that I didn't need a stretcher or anything to have to walk off the floor with," Brown said. "It's just a scary situation to be in. You never want to be in that situation where people are saying, 'Pray for you.'"

During the Celtics' win over the Timberwolves on March 9, Brown went for a dunk in transition, but slipped off the rim and fell backward onto his head in an awkward position. He convulsed on the court for a moment before the Celtics training staff rushed to treat him. After a few minutes, he rose and walked off the court.

"When I fell, I was completely knocked out," he said. "I remember them saying, 'Yeah, we're going to need a stretcher,' and something came over me and I just got right up. ... I remember waking up and there was a bunch of people standing around me and I was like, 'What the hell is going on?' And I had no idea I had been out for 30 seconds or whatever they said I was out for. I just remember waking up, and there were a bunch of people around me and I tried to get up and they were like, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa.' And I was like, 'What's the big deal.' And that's all I remember to be honest."


Brown has missed five games, but could end that streak at six if he can return Sunday in Sacramento. Brown is averaging 14.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 30.9 minutes per game this season.


    Gordon Hayward gives update on ankle rehab

    File Photo

    Gordon Hayward gives update on ankle rehab

    Gordon Hayward is trying to translate his rehab off the court onto the hardwood. The Boston Celtics forward detailed the latest steps he's taking in his rehab from his ankle injury.

    “Rehab is going well, still progressing on the AlterG (anti-gravity treadmill), trying to get where I can run on a regular treadmill, so 100-percent bodyweight,” Hayward said in a video posted to the Celtics' Twitter account. “Next step after that will be jumping and then hopefully I can incorporate some of that — the running and jumping on the treadmill — to running and jumping on the basketball court, so that’s where I’m at.”

    Hayward suffered his ankle injury in the first five minutes of the season opener. He has not ruled out returning during the 2018 playoffs, though Brad Stevens continues to insist that Hayward will not play again this season.

    “The hope is still there,” Hayward told ESPN on March 9. “It’s something where I’m really honestly not even thinking about it. I know we’re getting toward the end of the year. It’s something that I’m still working toward, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.”