What Celtics should watch for vs. Lakers
Scouting report: What Celtics should watch for vs. Lakers
BOSTON – All evidence, statistics and analytical data points toward a Celtics win over the Los Angeles Lakers tonight, which has been a rarity in recent years.
The Celtics come into the game having lost eight of their past 11 games against the Lakers.
And while it has been well documented how much the Lakers (17-35) have struggled this season, there are aspects of their roster that could give the Celtics (31-18) trouble and potentially prevent Boston from winning six in a row for the first time this season.
Here’s a scouting report on five key areas that the Celtics would be wise to keep in check tonight:
Generating offense from the reserves is the one thing the Lakers do at a relatively high level most nights. They come into tonight’s game averaging a league-high 50.3 points off the bench. Lou Williams, a former Sixth Man of the Year winner, is the catalyst to the Lakers' second-unit scoring success. Williams, who is averaging a team-best 18.2 points per game this season, has scored more points (2,612) off the bench than any player in the NBA in the last three seasons. But they are by no means a one-man scoring off the bench. Jordan Clarkson has also been a reliable point-producer for the Lakers, averaging 14.1 points per game this season. Limiting the scoring impact of those two will go far in Boston emerging with a victory tonight.
MAKE IT A HALF-COURT GAME
One of the more noticeable downsides to having a youthful, talented team like the Lakers, is that they tend to rely on their individual skills more than what they can collectively accomplish as a team. We see this in their passing; or rather lack of passing. The Lakers rank 23rd in passes made per game (290.4) and 28th in assists percentage (.532). Meanwhile, the Celtics are second in both passes per game (330.9) as well as assists percentage (.649). So the more Boston can force them into playing a half court set, the better their chances are at winning.
I guess it stands to reason that when you miss as many shots as the Lakers do on a nightly basis, being able to get a decent amount of second and third-shot opportunities kind of comes with the territory. Crashing the offensive glass effectively as allowed Los Angeles to rank among the league’s leaders when it comes to second-chance points. This season, the Lakers are ninth in that category with a 13.5 per game average.
The Los Angeles Lakers don’t shoot the ball well in half-court sets, so they’re trying their best to push the pace and get as many scoring opportunities as they can in transition. They have had a relatively moderate amount of success along those lines this season. They average 14.0 points per game via the fast break, which ranks ninth in the NBA.
CLOG THE PAINT
Because they are looking to score in transition so much, it has often led to them giving teams fits with their interior scoring. They average 44.7 points in the paint per game which ranks ninth in the NBA. This is an area that while being a strength, also serves as one of their biggest weaknesses, too. Lakers opponents are averaging 47.2 points in the paint per game, which ranks 28th in the NBA.