Hey y’all, I know we’re still recovering from an epic Super Bowl and all, but I owe y’all my takeaways from the Lakers/Celtics match-up from Friday, so I thought I’d keep my end of the bargain. Without further ado, here are my takeaways from the Lakers vs Celtics.
- Containing Isaiah Thomas….or not
I’m not saying that defending Mr. Thomas is an easy assignment. He’s averaging 29.7 ppg (second in the NBA to Russell Westbrook) and those points are coming against everyone, not just L.A. Regardless, to have Isaiah go off for 38 points (17 in the fourth quarter alone) is simply poor defense and a lack of an adjustment for the Lakers on the defensive end. Thomas killed the Lakers from the field, (13-24) from three, (5-11) and from the line (7-7). I understand that he’s gonna get his, but I feel that too many of his shots were on generally easy attempts. There were only a few plays where I feel that the Lakers had proper defensive pressure on him and were actually ready to decently contest. That has to change. And that’s not to say that the Lakers weren’t trying, the Celtics run Thomas through screens like a rat through a maze, so Russell and Clarkson were always watching for one, but it seemed like the Lakers defenders would get there juuuust as Thomas was releasing the ball, having already locked and loaded. In addition to that, Thomas had multiple weaving forays to the basket that made the Lakers interior defense look like they were moving in slow motion. At halftime Isaiah had 14, and he scored 24 in the second half (or one more point than the Lakers starting backcourt combined) That can’t be allowed a second time. March 3rd is their next chance to face Boston, and look for Luke Walton to figure out a better way to solve the Thomas conundrum.
2) Offensively, matching Brandon Ingram on an opposing Power Forward could unlock him offensively
Brandon Ingram has had a rough stretch before his game against the Celtics, with a combined 15 points in his previous 5 games. However, on Friday B.I. had 14, (on 5-10 shooting, 2-4 from three, 2-2 from the line) an all of his points with the exception of his free throws came when matched against a Boston Power Forward. He especially feasted against Jonas Jerebko and Jae Crowder, where he used his quickness against Jerebko to get to the rim and his shooting prowess to keep Crowder honest. I especially liked his aggressiveness on one play in particular, where he corralled a rebound, found himself in a corner, faked a pass to the left to throw off the defender, and then rose and knocked down the deep J. He also had a fancy fake and finish off of a pass from Russell on a 2 on 1 break. We need to see more of that offensively tenacious Brandon Ingram, and his shot will come around for good, but in the meantime, I think it’d be a great idea to continue to have him attack power forwards on the offensive end to continue building his confidence.
3) The Lakers backcourt was pretty good
Yes, Isaiah Thomas was the story. But Nick Young and D’angelo Russell had a good night between the both of them. D’angelo Russell had 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. Nick Young had 17 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. They were a combined 14-34 from the field and 7 of 19 from beyond the arc. Neither got to the line much (both went once each and converted both shots) but offensively they did put pressure on the Celtics, especially as they came back with some short rallies in the third and fourth. Young and Russell have been playing pretty well this year, but I hope to see continued games out of them like this with above average production.
4) Lou Williams continues to build his trade value
Sweet Lou has had a solid year. He’s averaging a career year in PPG (18.3 off the bench) with 2.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game, and he has been very efficient in his scoring, both from deep and through drawing fouls and getting to the line. On Friday he had a game high 21 points for the Lakers. He didn’t have a great time of it from the field, (5-14 from the field, 3-9 from three) but as most times this season he found a way to get to the line and get it done. If nothing else, contending teams have and will continue to take notice, and in the coming weeks it will be interesting to see what the Lakers do regarding Lou Williams and what the going rate for him would be on the trade market. Follow Lakers Lounge of more of this and plenty more awesome Lakers content!