Celtics vs. Lakers: Just Another Game?
|02.18.10 at 12:18 am ET|
To Rajon Rondo, a trip to the Staples Center in the middle of February feels the same as a stop at any other arena.
He sees a basketball court, not the banners hanging above it. And regardless of the rivalry against the home team, he is simply focused on leaving with a win.
“It’s not like a championship game,” he explained. “It’s not a series. It’s one game. It helps our record or hurts our record, one way or the other. It’s another game.”
On Thursday, the Celtics will take on the Lakers in their final match up of the regular season. The last time the teams met on Jan. 31, the C’s blew an 11-point fourth quarter lead and watched Kobe Bryant sink a game-winner with 7.3 seconds left.
In spite of the desire to avenge their loss, Rondo’s right. This isn’t a championship game. In fact, at this point in the season it is more about the Celtics vs. themselves rather than the Celtics vs. the Lakers.
The C’s have been their own worst enemy lately, surrendering leads and making mistakes down the stretch. This game against Los Angeles, the second stop on a four-game West Coast road trip, will be a test for them to get back to Celtics basketball after a recent departure.
“It’s important,“ Paul Pierce said of the entire road trip. “We want to go out there and start playing better, start playing more consistent basketball. We know it’s a tough trip, and maybe this is a chance for us to get out on the road and get ourselves back together because we really struggled over the last month-and-a-half.”
The loss to the Lakers capped off a three-game losing streak and a month of January in which the Celtics went 6-8. They entered the All-Star Break on a two-game skid, still struggling to put together 48 minutes of basketball.
A win over the Lakers would give them momentum to jumpstart the second half of the season. They narrowly edged the 18-win Kings on Tuesday night and will face the playoff contending Trail Blazers, Nuggets, and Cavaliers over the course of the next week.
“Next is down to business,” said Kevin Garnett. “Obviously trying to play better, consistent basketball for the Celtics and being productive. So that’s what’s next for us.”