Lakers vs. Celtics Pregame Shoot Around
Tonight the Lakers take on the much despised Boston Celtics. Celtics made some big changes in the off season after failing to make the Finals. Despite Gordon Hayward being lost for the season in the very first game, the Celtics have ran off 9 straight victories after dropping their first 2 of the season. Lakers will be looking to extend their own modest 2 game winning streak as they kick off a tough 4 game road trip.
Lonzo Ball has been the focus of a lot of talk recently, specifically is inability to hit shots on a consistent basis
“Let him play the whole fourth quarter and bet you’ll always win. He’ll get into a better flow,” Ball said. “The in and out, sitting out six to 10 minutes? He’s not going to take no shots because he’s not in the flow. He don’t want to hurt the team by shooting.”
Just to be clear Lonzo is leading the Lakers in minutes played at 33.0 per game. In those minutes his shooting has been consistently poor. Overall he has made 35-117 (29.9%) of his attempts from the field. 24-70 (34.3%) when he is shooting shots worth 2pts. 11-47 (23.4) from downtown and only 7-13 (53.8%) from the line. Pardon me, but those numbers look very Rondo like. Maybe if he showed any consistency from the floor Luke might be inclined to leave him in for longer stretches. I totally understand that he is able to generate a positive effect on the team in other areas of the game. But we can’t act like his shooting issues aren’t going to be a concern moving forward if he is not able to find a way to hit shots with any type of regularity. Even if he can consistently hit 40% of his shots it would help tremendously. It will also open up more passing lanes for him, which are starting to shut down for him as teams focus on playing him for the pass a lot more than they do the shot. I still fall into the camp of give him some time to get adjusted to the game, his shot will come around. In the meantime Lavar Ball can go somewhere and chill out, Lakers got this handled. Also if you didn’t catch the Westcoast Crossover’s official response, well here it go…
— West Coast Crossover (@CrossoverWest) November 6, 2017
This leads us into the discussion regarding tonight’s matchup for Lonzo at point guard, Kyrie Irving. This year he is averaging 22 pts and 6 assist, which are pretty much in line with his career stats. He was highly criticized and lambasted for his request to be traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers as many questions why he would want to leave LeBron James after making the finals three years in a row with the Cavs. However it may prove to be a wise decision given that the Celtics are off to a 9-2 start despite the fact that they lost Gordon Hayward early in the season. While the Cavs have got off to a very disappointing start and currently sit at 4-6. Undoubtedly the Cavs will probably get things turned around, but it may already be to late for them to catch up to the Celtics for the top seed in the East. This would once again give the Celtics home court advantage should they meet in the playoffs, something that most basketball pundits anticipate happening.
One thing not to be overlooked is that Kyrie Irvings defensive efficiency is at an all-time high. He was routinely accused of not caring about the defensive side of the ball while in Cleveland. However since joining Brad Stevens in Boston his numbers have been outstanding, and he also leads the league in steals. He is not grabbing a lot of steals through continuous gambles on defense. A lot of them have come from being in the right place at the right time, and shooting the gaps in anticipated passing lanes as the Celtics have been playing outstanding defense as a whole to start off the season. The Lakers have been very effective offensively as of late, and have even been able to shoot the ball well from all over the floor. Will their offense continue to flourish against the top ranked defense in the league?
Personally, I expect it to be a tough night in Boston for the Lakers. In addition they must follow up with a game the very next night in Washington DC to face the Wizards who will probably have revenge on their mind as they look to even the score after the Lakers upset them a couple of weeks ago at Staples. They then travel to Milwaukee to face the Bucks and newly acquired Eric Bledsoe, and end the trip in Phoenix against the resurgent Suns. If the Lakers return home from this trip 2-2 consider it a success for them. However tonight I have the Lakers falling to the hated Celtics, 111-95. I have concerns with the way Lonzo might handle the atmosphere his first time playing in Boston against the Celtics, and he could have other family situations on his mind prior to the game that might affect his play on the court.
Tune in tonight, and don’t forget to check in with us, and hear our thoughts on the game, and the state of the Lakers during our podcast available on all your streaming services, and www.westcoastcrossover.com
Power Forward Minutes – Obviously with Larry Nance getting hurt there were going to be some extra minutes available. Kyle Kuzma was awarded the starting position of Julius Randle, and it has worked out well for the most part. However, we have not seen an increase in the minutes being played by Julius Randle, in spite of the fact that he has been very effective while playing. Ideally I would like to see Kyle Kuzma averaging close to 30 minutes, and Randle up around 25 minutes per game. Not only has Randle been productive when he gets into the game. But in addition, the Lakers might find themselves in position to trade make a trade involving Randle, and obviously if he is playing well, then his value increases. It also might give the Lakers the ability to attach Luol Deng and his hideous contract to any deal should one come to fruition that is of the Lakers liking.