Round one of the yearly battle between basketball's biggest rivals, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, went to the enemy. With one last shot to get a win and even the score, Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics march into Staples Center for a rematch at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday afternoon (TV/Radio: ABC/WEEI).
Boston and Los Angeles have quite the history, but in the interest of time, we'll only review the brief history. These two proud franchises have met in the NBA Finals twice since 2008, with each team winning once. Overall, the Celtics hold a 99-85 advantage in games against L.A. but are 37-50 in road games against the purple and gold.
Kobe Bryant did what he does best, dominate, in the Lakers' last meeting with the Celtics on Feb. 9 at TD Garden. Kobe had a game-high 27 points to lead Los Angeles past Boston in a thrilling 88-87 overtime win. Pau Gasol played well in the win, amassing 25 points and 14 boards, but the Lakers struggled on the offensive end, shooting 39.6 percent.
Ray Allen scored 22 to lead Boston, which was slightly worse from the field at 39.2 percent shooting. Paul Pierce added 16 points, Rajon Rondo totaled 14 points and seven assists and Kevin Garnett had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Both teams have been playing relatively well since the start of the second half of the season, with Boston winning five out of six games and Los Angeles prevailing in four out of six tilts. The Celtics' only loss came against the Atlantic Division leading Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. Los Angeles, meanwhile, lost two against the Pistons and Wizards.
The Celtics will be without reserve forward Chris Wilcox, who missed the team's last game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday due to personal matters. Wilcox did not fly to Los Angeles with the team and multiple reports indicate that a routine cardiac test revealed the need for further tests, which he will have early this week. Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) and Mickael Pietrus (knee) may very well miss the game as well.
Boston stays in town to face the Los Angeles Clippers in its next game on Monday.