Rivalry game: Celtics-Lakers always a big deal

Rivalry game: Celtics-Lakers always a big deal
February 7, 2013, 3:51 pm
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TORONTO This season's first matchup between the Celtics and the Lakers doesn't quite have the same sizzle as it has in past years.

But that won't stop players from being a little more amped up for this game than most.

Jason Terry who is a neophyte to the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, can't hold back his ear-to-ear grin in talking about Thursday's matchup.

"This is a rivalry; this is what I came to be a Boston Celtic for," Terry said. "Games like this, playing against teams like this. Miami, Lakers, Knicks, Brooklyn, that's what I was brought here for. I just can't wait until we get to (tonight). I'm fired up! This is one that you mark on your calendar."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledges that outsiders might not see this as a marquee game, and there's a reason for that.

"It's probably both of our faults," Rivers said. "Neither one of us has the record that either one of us thought. So nobody's talking about it. Blame us, both teams.

"But it's still the Lakers and the Celtics," he added.

Despite both teams' struggles, each has started to play some of their best basketball of the season.

Boston (25-23) comes in having won five straight while the Lakers (23-26) have won three in a row and six of their last seven games.

However, Los Angeles will have to try and find a way to make up for the loss of Pau Gasol who suffered a tear of the plantar fascia on his right foot. The Lakers have yet to give a timetable for his return, but he's expected to miss at least a month.

"They've been dealing with a lot of adversity," Rivers said. "And it's not through injury and now it is with Pau out and Dwight (Howard)."

In addition to Gasol's injury, the Lakers have played the last three games -- all wins -- without Dwight Howard who aggravated a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder.

But there's no feelings of pity on the part of the Celtics who have had their own issues to deal with this season.

Boston has won five straight, all coming with four-time all-star Rajon Rondo (torn right ACL) out for the season. Less than a week after his season-ending injury, the C's lose Jared Sullinger (back surgery) for the season as well.

Their records in many ways, reflect how both are working through a transition period that has been rocky, to say the least.

"You look at both franchises, there's been a lot of change, a lot of moves," Kevin Garnett said. "Chemistry, it's a mother. It's something that you just can't take for granted. These two franchises are a prime example of that."

That may be true. But for veterans like Paul Pierce, it's still Boston versus the Lakers. And that in itself makes this game a big deal -- a very big deal.

"Everybody is always excited to watch Boston and L.A. no matter what the records are, no matter what it is," Pierce said.