Blog Entry

Celtics at Lakers: What it means for Boston

Posted on: January 28, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2011 3:20 am
What Sunday's Celtics-Lakers game means for the Boston Celtics in the first rematch since the 2010 Finals. 

Posted by Matt Moore

On Sunday, Boston travels to L.A. for Modern Celtics-Lakers XX.  The 20th time these two have met since the 07-08 season (twice in the regular season for three years, plus 13 playoff games) will still represent what many feel is a clash of the two best teams in basketball currently, as well as the resumption of the oldest and greatest rivalry the sport has ever known. With Los Angeles at 33-13 and the Celtics 35-10, the two look every bit ready to see each other once more in the Finals, even with challengers like San Antonio and Miami in their path. 

This rivalry extends beyond the history and legacies of their franchises, though. There's a genuine dislike between the two teams, even if they share a mutual respect.  The Celtics' brutally tough, bullying defense and marksman like precision clashes organically with the Lakers' smooth ball movement and overpowering height and athleticism run through the Triangle.  Doc Rivers' explosive motivational coaching approach runs in contrast to Phil Jackson's zen-like trust in his players and press-conference tweaking.  And at the end of it, they just don't like one another. 

But as the two meet in the rare regular season game that actually does seem to matter (although afterward the loser will predictably dismiss such claims), what does this matchup actually mean for Boston? 

Just for Kicks

Kevin Garnett has never been one to back down from an opportunity for dramatics. As much as his reputation is for visceral toughness and unbridled intensity, he is also a showman.  While the legitimacy of his stanchion-smashing, cobra-weaving, "Anything is possible" lunacy is up for debate, he does know how to send a message in outright terms. Nothing proves that like the shoes it was announced Garnett would be wearing for the game. Yes, his shoes. Have a look, courtesy of Nice Kicks /Aaron Knows and The Basketball Jones :

On the tongue there? That's the Celtics all time record against the Lakers, 152-120. The shoe is delicately titled "Beat L.A.."  Kevin Garnett had shoes produced for one game.  If that doesn't serve as proof of Garnett's intentions in this game, nothing will. It's just his feet, but in basketball terms, that's as good as wearing a T-shirt that reads "I plan on kicking your face in because that's what my team does to your team."  It's an outright signal of the Celtics' entire attitude, which isn't just "We're going to win" but "We're going to win because we're better than you, our franchise is better than you, and our collective being in every way is superior to yours."

It's why the Celtics don't really respect Orlando, nor do they show real signs of respect for anyone. It's part of their own personal code of conduct. But it's amped to another level with L.A. That will always be part of it as the players seek to carry on the legacy of the game built into the rivalry. But it's even more prevalent because of how things were the last time these two stepped on a court together. 

Revenge and the Art of Maniacal Maintenance

Losing to the Lakers in the Finals was devastating for the Celtics. Losing a championship series is hard for any player, but these are the Celtics, a group of veterans trying to make good on promises to themselves as well as their fans that they would collect multiple rings once among players of their caliber. Beyond that, though, losing to L.A. creates a sense of failure beyond just disappointment. You've let down the players that came before you, the players who managed to beat the Lakers, who protected that legacy (despite the Lakers having won quite a few of their own throughout the years).  It's the darkest of all places, as Garnett told WEEI this fall about his mindset after Game 7: 
“Very dark, to be honest, dark. ‘Just leave me alone, let me be my myself. I don’t want to deal with anything right now. Let me just be in a dark place.’ Just the way I replay the game over and over in my mind, trying to get a resolution to some type of place to where you can settle with it. I never found it, but that’s what it is. I say it’s fuel to the fire. [Expletive? (Bleeped completely out] .“
via Sports Radio Interviews » Blog Archive » Kevin Garnett Goes To A Dark Place In The Off-Season .

Paul Pierce wasn't in a great place afterward either, when WEEI spoke to him about it: 
How long does it take a competitive person like you to get over a seventh-game loss in the NBA (Finals)? A week? A month? Ever?

“I still haven’t gotten over it. It’s tough. Because you envision back, and say, ‘If we could have done this different, that different in the game, it would have been a different outcome.’ So, it’s hard. You think about the what ifs and all of that. I don’t think you ever forget it.”

What’s the process? Do you go in your bedroom for a couple of days and sleep, and then don’t shave for a while, or don’t bathe, and then finally come out of the shell?

“I didn’t talk to people for a long time. I didn’t watch any basketball for a long time. I sort of kind of did go into a shell. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t even want to go out and eat for a while, because you just felt that bad about the loss. But then as I got back into the gym and working out, I just used it for motivation and just sort of loosened up from there.”
via Sports Radio Interviews » Blog Archive » Paul Pierce on Losing Game 7 .

This is just speculation, but I'm betting Glen Davis' reaction was to eat a muffin. Or a boar whole, or something. Regardless, things were pretty rough for the C's after that loss. 

Nothing will really provide the Celtics with a satisfied feeling of revenge short of winning the championship, preferably over the Lakers this spring.  But this game is a chance to send a message.  It's an opportunity to go into the Lakers' house and show them that they are still every bit as tough as they have been, and even tougher with their improved depth. It's a chance to illustrate that they are the ones in control of this rivalry, even after last spring, and that even though this is just a regular season game, they can dominate at will. 

This isn't about just showing L.A. who's boss, it's about testing themselves. Being 35-10 means little to them because they don't care about beating the Nets, or the Bobcats, or even the Magic or Heat.  They want to show they can beat the Lakers.  Everything else is just a means to get there. 

And in part, the Celtics want the opportunity to show that they're right: Kendrick Perkins was the reason they lost. 

Man Down, Ring Down

Losing Kendrick Perkins before Game 7 hurt .  One of the Celtics' biggest advantages against the Lakers as opposed to nearly every team in the league is their ability to counter the Lakers' length with their own interior defense.  Perkins isn't a behemoth like Andrew Bynum, but what he lacks in height he makes up for in toughness, physicality, and savvy.  Losing him meant the Celtics lost just enough of an edge down low.

At the end of the matchup considerations, though, is this: the Celtics were without a starter for Game 7 of the Finals.  That's enough to prompt anyone to keep an excuse at the back of their minds, even if they'll publicly give the other team credit.  Perkins means a lot to this team, and even in limited minutes now that he's back, you can see what he brings the team.  

Sunday is an opportunity to showcase what they look like at full-strength, should they stay healthy till then (which is far from guaranteed, this is the Celtics, after all).  Even with Shaquille O'Neal nursing an injury and Jermaine O'Neal still struggling through his knee problems, this is the Celtics, at their core.  Sunday provides an opportunity to show the difference in the Celtics with and without Perkins. Perkins wasn't even expected to be available for this game, supposedly out another week.

But of course Tuesday he pops up healthy.  That's how this works. Some, like myself, never questioned that Perkins would be back for this game. This game matters to him. You'll have a hard time keeping him out of a game like this, even in the regular season. Because this is like a dress rehearsal.

Trial Run

There's no way to duplicate the intensity of the Finals, but this will be as close as it will get for a while, at least until the Lakers visit Boston in a few weeks.  And it's a chance to test things for future reference. How will Shaquille O'Neal do against Andrew Bynum?  How will Nate Robinson do as backup against Shannon Brown or Steve Blake?  What can a healthy Marquis Daniels do against Ron Artest

These are the questions that will be in Doc Rivers' mind, as they try and get a regular season win, but also try and figure out some things to rely on should these two meet again.  There's no way to block it out, though they may try. "It's just another game" will likely be a refrain at practice and shootaround. Don't be fooled. This is the setup, the first act of the 2011 chapter of Lakers-Celtics.  Let's draw the curtain, and see what happens.

Since: Oct 6, 2006
Posted on: February 2, 2011 9:19 pm
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Since: Sep 18, 2007
Posted on: January 30, 2011 6:22 pm

Celtics at Lakers: What it means for Boston


Thank you for debating like a grown up.  Bob ought to take a lesson from you.  Obviously I'm a Boston fan.  I never intended to hide that or to provide a balanced opinion.  If you re-read it, you'll see I was simply stating why I thought the Celtics would win, supporting it with stats rather than hollow boasts.  Being a homer means not supporting your bragging claims with any factual evidence.  I did nothing of the sort.

I gave you 5 stars for your reply.  I don't have to agree with your post to give you credit for writing it without sounding like a whining cry baby.  It's nice to meet a fan from the opposition who knows how to write. 

The only place you fell off the wagon was your next-to-last sentence, "Boston fans always find a way to work in excuses regarding the 2010 NBA finals when posting on the subject," which was as much of a generalized homer statement as anything I wrote.  You might want to be a little less hypocritical when you're accusing someone of the same thing.

Since: Nov 17, 2010
Posted on: January 30, 2011 6:18 pm

Celtics at Lakers: What it means for Boston

Whatcha got to say now Omi? Celtics bigs DOMINATED tonight! Gasol and Bynum were totally a step or 10 slower than Garnett, Perk, and Davis. We owned the 4th quarter!

Since: Apr 1, 2009
Posted on: January 30, 2011 3:51 pm

Celtics at Lakers: What it means for Boston

As far as rivalries go, this is the best in all of sports, and i am not really a hoops fan. So how can someone say this rivalry is best when they're not a fan of the sport, simple. When we moved to Canada in 1967 and my dad would let me stay up and watch hockey, I always remember hearing about the Lakers-Celtics. That also was Larry Bird time, and then there was some magic out west. Yeah I must say, I may not be a hoops fan, and I usually only watch the finals, but I will tune in today, because football, baseball, and hockey cannot produce a rivalry this intense. Plus, none of the other ones are on at the time!

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: January 30, 2011 3:02 pm

Celtics at Lakers: What it means for Boston

You claim to have written an unbiased post, yet your blatant "Bleed Green" is "bleeding through" your material my friend.  You start off by posting some relevant and interesting stats regarding the Finals matchup records.  Yet the bitter green monster that lurks inside you and all your fellow Celtics fans had to rear its ugly head when you start digging into the EXCUSES bin.  "(from losing by 2 baskets in Game 7 on the road without their starting big man in the middle)"  Why is it that Beantowners always seem to act as though Kendrick Perkins is the "missing link" to this team?  He is a rebound contributer and 4th option scorer, the C's have been bouncing in and around the best record in basketball without him!  Then you truly hammer your homerism' home by stating "However, the Celtics haven't had Kendrick Perkins or Jermaine O'Neal all year, and Shaq's been on limited playing time all season.  They still managed to beat San Antonio. So before LA fans make excuses, don't bother."  Really?  This is supposed to be your intelligent, balanced opinion?  Just because you state "may the best team win" at the end of a very GREEN post, doesn't erase the previous three paragraphs of complete biased analysis.  Boston fans always find a way to work in excuses regarding the 2010 NBA finals when posting on the subject.
You are no exception my friend.  

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: January 30, 2011 2:48 pm

Celtics at Lakers: What it means for Boston

Please tell me you are kidding!  Lakers/Celtics is one of, if not THE biggest rivalries in sports and has been for the last 50 years man!  you are just throwing out your wish list because you hate seeing these two storied franchises always in the middle of the championship race.  Sorry the Portland Trailblazers are garbage, and will continue to be for years to come.  Dont just spout off non sense because you are a hater, its quite juvenile!

Since: Sep 5, 2009
Posted on: January 30, 2011 10:42 am

Celtics at Lakers: What it means for Boston

LOL- Are the Cadavers still in the league?

Since: Sep 18, 2007
Posted on: January 30, 2011 10:21 am

Celtics at Lakers: What it means for Boston

grazlin, I don't think I've ever read a more arrogant post, while being pathetic at the same time!  I feel sorry for you...
Okay, bobthe fa n, you're certainly entitled to your opinion.  Unlike most homers on this thread, I used facts and statistics to make argument in favor of Boston.  Not only that, but I actually COMPLIMENTED the Lakers by saying the numbers may favor Boston but LA can win on its own court anytime because Kobe is one of the best in the game and rest of the starting 5 can move the ball as good as any team in the league.  I also said may the best team win, like a good sportsman.

What did you do?  Use condescending pity?  That's your argument?  Seems pretty clear that I'M not the one people need to feel sorry for.  When you learn to articulately debate, don't deign to throw around words like arrogant and pathetic.  You have to support those words with facts before you can have any credibility.

I challenge anyone reading this post right now to go back and read my original post (entitled "Trivia Question...") then read bobthe fa n's post and honestly reply as to which post is better supported, regardless of which team you support.

Since: Nov 17, 2010
Posted on: January 30, 2011 9:16 am

Celtics at Lakers: What it means for Boston

I love how you bash me instead of the players! You are the idiot! lol! Have at least a bit of intellegence and argue a point instad of being a child name caller! lol! Posters like you are just hilarious!

Since: Mar 8, 2007
Posted on: January 30, 2011 8:06 am
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