Boston, MA– This NBA season, no teams have received as much attention or controversy as the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. Two of the winningest franchises in sports history and the poster teams of the NBA, both teams have vastly underperformed when compared to pre-season expectations. The Boston Celtics were slated to dominate the East with a roster that had unmatched talent. The Los Angeles Lakers were expected to make the post-season again with their signing of LeBron James in the off-season. Neither prediction has quite panned out yet.
Boston will still be in the playoffs, but they will likely receive a fourth, fifth, or sixth seed. The Lakers, however, have sidelined James, Lonzo Ball, and Brandon Ingram for the rest of the season and it seems like they are entering tank mode with the post-season in the West so far out of reach.
This was a perfect time for the Celtics to meet their historic rival, as they were coming off a 128-95 blowout of the Golden State Warriors and a narrow 111-109 victory over the Sacramento Kings on their road trip. The Celtics controlled the game for pretty much the entire time as they prevailed by a score of 120-107. James scored 30 points for the Lakers, but Kyrie Irving matched him with 30 points of his own and Gordon Hayward added 15 points off the bench.
Up next, Boston's California road trip will continue with tomorrow's match against the Los Angeles Clippers, a team fighting for the eighth seed in the West and in whom the Celtics have a vested interest in seeing make the playoffs.
So the Celtics are now 41-26 with just 15 games left to go in the season, and despite a recent string of bad losses, there might just be reason to believe in this team. I know I sound like Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates, waking up every day and reliving the same facades over and over again. But this time really could be different.
On the plane ride out to California, the Celtics apparently spent a lot of time bonding; Irving owned up to his poor leadership, and Hayward vowed to begin a hot streak for himself. Many Celtics were quick to say that it was an amazing flight, and the team remarked that they felt really close. Three wins in a row is a solid step towards following through on that, but they still have a long way to go to reclaim their status as top tier contenders. But right now, I might actually feel more like Drew Barrymore in The Wedding Singer: really happy that the people we are fans of were on that airplane.