No showtime: Celtics-Lakers are disappointing squad clash

But it is undoubtedly a battle of two teams with disappointing starts.

The Celtics are 5-3 after a 2-5 start, but they’ve taken a 19-point lead against the Cavaliers, and then their inability to match the Hawks offensively on Wednesday is the reason they get tangled up. around the 0.500 mark. The Celtics are last in the NBA in fourth quarter goals (22.9 points) and 28th in field goal percentage.

In other words, they don’t take shots to close matches. Jayson Tatum is expected to take responsibility for these late shortcomings due to his struggles early in the season. But he was rolling against the Hawks and the Celtics still hesitated down the stretch because he received no help.

Tatum scored 10 points in the final period on a 3v5 shot. His teammates totaled 12 on 5v15 shots. Brown’s eventual return should help a lot, but coach Ime Udoka needs to find a way. ‘get more offensive production from his bench.

Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard, who have shown such promise as rookies, fight powerfully, possibly due to inconsistent playing time. They total 13 for 53 shots from the 3-point line and have combined an average of 4 points per game.

Marcus Smart had a major impact on the defense, but his 26% shooting from the 3-point line is his lowest since 2015-16. The Celtics don’t need Smart to score often, but they do need him to hit open shots. Another problem is 3 point shooting. The Celtics are 12th in the NBA in attempts but 26th in percentage.

Against the Hawks they missed 30 of 41 3 points and the Celtics other than Grant Williams and Tatum were a combined 3 of 21. The Celtics would make it easier if they just shot.

The Lakers started this season with championship aspirations after acquiring Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza, Kendrick Nunn and Kent Bazemore to join James and Anthony Davis. The results have been mixed.

Not only did James miss 10 games, but rising goaltender Talen Horton-Tucker missed the first 13 with injury. Anthony exceeded expectations while Westbrook performed in the choppy fashion of the past few years. While still possessing elite athleticism, Westbrook struggles with his shooting decisions both on the outside and on the field.

The question was defense. The Lakers are 28th in the league in points allowed and despite a roster filled with prolific scorers; they are outclassed by 3 points per game, the eighth worst in the NBA.

Age was supposed to be the Lakers’ biggest detractor, but the team suffered without James, going 4-6 with two embarrassing losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder and a blow to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

At times the Lakers have seemed indifferent, only waiting for more meaningful games, but the chemistry isn’t established when chasing teams after falling behind. Davis, named to the NBA’s Top 75 squad, failed to galvanize his teammates in James ‘absence, ending all speculation he would be the Lakers’ No.1 option.

The Warriors were by far the most impressive team in the Western Conference while the Phoenix Suns have won 10 straight games. The invincibility of the teams led by LeBron James is gone. The Suns beat the Lakers in five games in the Western quarterfinals last year.

“We’ve made a team and we haven’t seen it yet,” said Davis. “It’s a lot, a bit like the same thing last year. We have to adapt. We just have to keep fighting until everyone comes back. But we still have guys who can win basketball games.

This last point is certain. The Celtics won’t give any sign of relief if James misses on Friday. The Lakers roster remains filled with Hall of Famers. The Celtics also needed extra time to beat a Milwaukee Bucks team without All-Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.

Each team can use injuries as an excuse. Despite Hamstring Brown’s absence and Robert Williams’ lack of casual games, the Celtics are expected to be better than 7-8. Much like the Lakers should be better than 8-8.

As with these rivals, you can expect a very competitive game, this time between two desperate teams trying to gain momentum and avoid further criticism. The Celtics have a chance to catch up on this four-game homestand, but their offense has been so lacking in stretches that it’s hard to determine if they are able to maintain a late lead against a historically packed squad. eye-catching, even if James isn’t there.

It will be a huge challenge for the Celtics, one they must overcome with better execution and offensive efficiency.

Gary Washburn can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @GwashburnGlobe.

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