Extra Pass: Can Lakers add to Celtics’ woes?

Published December 13, 2022, 7:00 PMPolo Bustamante

The Lakers have their hands full against the Celtics, who are coming off two straight losses.

What’s up with the LA Lakers?

The Lakers finally got back on track, winning their last game against the Detroit Pistons. Just like LA’s season though, there were a lot of positives the team could take away from that win, but also some bad habits continued to rear their ugly heads.

It was a good thing to see Anthony Davis and LeBron James put up big numbers once again. This time though, they did it together. Davis continued his torrid run, scoring 34 points on the young Pistons frontline. The seven assists he had in the game were an encouraging sign of his improving playmaking for the team.

James Led the Lakers in scoring with 35 points. He hit 58.3 percent of his shots and knocked down a couple of three-pointers as well. Unlike Davis, that 30-plus point outing has been an outlier rather than the norm this season for the King. He’s only putting up 26.2 points per game at a 47 percent clip. 

The bad news for the Lakers is that James needed 37 minutes to get his numbers. That’s after he played 44 minutes in their overtime loss a couple of games back. That’s because the Lakers blew a 12-point halftime lead and allowed the Pistons to score 41 points in the third quarter alone. 

What was supposed to be a “rest” game for James and Davis turned into a tough battle until the end. Tired legs at this point during a road trip are not good, especially heading into a rivalry game.

What’s up with the Boston Celtics?

The Celtics only lost two games in their last 10 outings heading into their Finals rematch with the Golden State Warriors. They were rolling on both ends of the floor, looking like a totally different team from the one the Warriors faced at the end of last season.

Unfortunately for Boston, they came out flat against the defending champs. They allowed Golden State to get the jump on them and were playing catch-up for most of the game. Nothing was working for the Celtics. Defensively they were a mess. They allowed the Golden State to score 123 points on 51.1 percent shooting. Five Warriors scored in double-figures led by 34 from Klay Thompson and 32 from Steph Curry.

The league’s best offensive team also couldn’t get it going. They shot only 43.7 percent from the field and could manage only 44 points in the second half of the game. 

They followed up that loss with another stinker against the LA Clippers. They scored only 93 points on 43.4 percent shooting. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George feasted, combining for 51 points.

The Celtics are by far the best team in the league. They could afford a loss or two with a 1.5-game advantage over their closest competitor. What was troubling was how they lost their games against the Warriors and Clippers. They looked a lot like last season’s Finals team that couldn’t get the job done.

Storyline to watch out for

While talking about the MVP, there are two players in this matchup that are in that conversation.

Tatum has overtaken the likes of Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo in the MVP rankings. His stellar play on both ends of the floor is evident in the box score, but more importantly, in the rise of the Celtics up the standings. With Boston leading the pack, it’s only fitting that Tatum leads the MVP conversation as well.

Davis on the other hand has forced his way into the conversation with his stellar play this month. He’s been a monster for the Lakers and has made an undeniable case to be considered as this year’s MVP. Just like the Celtics, the Lakers are slowly rising up the West standings after their disastrous start. That’s because Davis is single-handedly pulling them up.

This game will be decided on who plays better. Can Tatum bounce back to his MVP form or will Davis continue his tear?


The Lakers are obviously still figuring things out. They’ve been playing better as of late, but they’re still not of the same caliber as the Celtics, who are looking like legitimate championship contenders right now.

It’s not impossible for LA to pull out the win, they have surprised other top teams this season. But the more realistic outcome is Boston adding the Lakers to the pile of wins they’ve collected so far this season.

Where to watch

You can watch the first meeting of the season between the two rivals live at 11:00 AM on NBA TV Philippines or through NBA League Pass.