<
>

W2W4: C's vs. Lakers (Game 56 of 82)

The Boston Celtics (19-36, 8-19 away) visit the Los Angeles Lakers (18-36, 8-17 home) on Friday night at the Staples Center (7:30 p.m., ESPN). Here's what to watch for:

  • DIFFERENT FEEL TO RIVALRY: The Celtics and Lakers -- their combined 33 word championships -- enter with a combined 37 wins this season. In fact, their combined .339 winning percentage is the lowest total ever entering a head-to-head game in the season series (minimum five games played), according to Elias Sports Bureau. The Lakers entered tied for the fourth worst record in basketball and the Celtics sit only a half-game behind them with potential to flip-flop spaces Friday.

  • WHAT LIES AHEAD?: The only instance in which both teams missed the postseason in the same year was the 1993-94 season. Our friends at ESPN Stats and Info point out that both teams owned lottery picks the following season, so what franchise changers did they draft? The Celtics took Eric Montross ninth, while the Lakers landed Eddie Jones at No. 10.

  • THE FINAL 27: With the trade deadline in the rearview, Boston knows its roster is set (save for a possible addition with an open roster spot) the rest of the season. Coach Brad Stevens said his focus is on using each game to improve his players, both individually and as a team. Much of that focus will fall on someone like rookie Kelly Olynyk, who is playing better and is earning more playing time. Fostering his development, like all young players, and growing continuity between the players that will be here next season are top on Stevens' to-do list.

  • LOOSE BALLS: This is the second and final meeting of the season between the two rivals. The Lakers posted a 107-104 victory in Boston last month, spoiling Rajon Rondo's return to game action. Olynyk had a career-high 25 points in that game. ... Boston has lost 2 in a row and five of their last six games against the Lakers. ... The Lakers are enduring a seven-game home losing streak, their longest streak in a single season in franchise history. ... The Celtics could see old friend MarShon Brooks. After trading him and Jordan Crawford to Golden State in January, the Warriors flipped him to the Lakers earlier this week in a trade for Steve Blake.

(Read full game preview)