Thanks to a vintage Kevin Garnett performance, the energetic play and scoring of Leandro Barbosa and a gritty fourth quarter, the Celtics earned an impressive road victory last night in Toronto.
The question is, does the team have what it takes to now, defeat the Lakers on the second-night of a back-to-back?
For this reason, the first key to tonight’s game is mental toughness. Only Chris Wilcox and Jason Collins played under twenty minutes last night. There is no doubt that Boston is tired. However, when you’re fighting for a playoff spot and in the Celtics case, to prove to Danny Ainge and the rest of the world that this team can still compete, you have to overcome these types of circumstances.
The second key for Boston is getting off to a good start. It is very important for the team to let Los Angeles know right from the opening tip that this game is going to be no different from the same type of highly competitive contests that always occur when these two meet up.
The Celtics must play with passion and heart, feeding off the crowd in order to help fuel them.
This means playing hard for the full 48 minutes, or at the very least, short lapses that only take place occasionally throughout the game. It is means running the floor, getting back in transition and not being stagnant on offense.
Tonight’s third key is defensive continuity. After surrendering 34 points in the 3rd quarter, Boston held the Raptors to just 16 points in the fourth quarter. It is this type of defensive effort that will net the team another impressive win tonight.
The rotations must be crisp, all five guys on the court must be in constant communication and they must play defense as a cohesive unit, working together to make life as difficult as possible for the Lakers.
Despite being 3-1 on their current seven-game road trip, the Lakers have struggled on the road this season. Hopefully, Boston can take advantage of Los Angeles’ road woes and exploit some of the flaws that have proven to make LA a worse team when playing away from the Staples Center.