Rivalry game: Celtics-Lakers always a big deal

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Rivalry game: Celtics-Lakers always a big deal

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.

Ainge: Isaiah Thomas visiting hip specialists, no decision yet on surgery

Ainge: Isaiah Thomas visiting hip specialists, no decision yet on surgery

BOSTON – The last 2 1/2 games for the Celtics have come without Isaiah Thomas (right hip) and it has certainly been a factor in Boston trailing Cleveland 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals heading into tonight’s must-win for the Celtics to keep their season alive.
 
There have been rumors that if the series with Cleveland were closer, maybe that would lead to a return to the floor for Thomas.
 
“No. No way. He’s done [this season],” Danny Ainge, Celtics president of basketball operations, said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s "Toucher & Rich" show this morning.
 
Ainge said there’s still swelling in the hip, and it probably won’t go down enough for doctors to make a determination whether surgery is needed for another couple weeks.

Thomas was in New York City earlier this week visiting a hip specialist. He's expected to consult with at least two more before making a decision as to what's the best course of treatment.
 
“Everybody agrees if there’s anything that needs to be done to it surgically, it helps...if the inflammation goes down,” Ainge said. “The recovery [time] would be quicker.”
 
The injury initially occurred on March 15 against Minnesota.
 
Ainge said he didn’t become too concerned about it until after Thomas re-aggravated it in Game 6 of the second-round series against Washington and was questionable to play in Game 7.
 
“I was worried going into the Cleveland series that he was nowhere near himself in Game 1 or 2,” Ainge said. “And Game 2 in the second quarter it was clear he was in a lot of pain. No way we could go out and allow him to play the second half.”
 
Boston was blown out 130-86 in Game 2. In the first half, Thomas had two points and six assists, while missing all six of his shots from the field.
 
Ainge said there was “a lot” of irritation and inflammation around the affected joint in Thomas' right hip.
 
“It had gotten worse from the MRIs he had before,” said Ainge, who added that it would have been “irresponsible to allow him to play anymore.”
 

Danny Ainge says Lonzo Ball has declined pre-draft workout with Celtics

Danny Ainge says Lonzo Ball has declined pre-draft workout with Celtics

BOSTON -- Like most NBA executives, Danny Ainge loves to get as much intel on players before picking them as he can.  
 
And with the No. 1 overall pick, Ainge knows he has to do all he can to absolutely get this one right.
 
That’s why any thoughts he had of drafting Lonzo Ball are likely out the window after the talented UCLA guard refused to work out for the Celtics.
 
“We tried to get him in for a workout and he politely said no,” Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show.
 
Lonzo Ball’s desire (or his dad Lavar Ball’s desire; hard to say who in the Ball camp wants him in L.A. the most) to play for the Los Angeles Lakers is one of the worst-kept secrets leading up to next month’s NBA draft.
 
And with the Lakers holding the No. 2 pick in the draft, turning down the Celtics only increases the likelihood of  Boston passing on him and instead drafting University of Washington star Markelle Fultz.
 
“It’s not ideal,” Ainge said of Ball's decision to decline working out for Boston. “Listen, we’ve drafted guys that wouldn’t come in for workouts before. It’s not the end of the world. We’ve watched them play a ton. We have a lot of information on them. Sometimes players don’t want to come in, not because they don’t like you, they see our roster. They think they would prefer to go to another team.”
 
The Celtics, like most teams, have been mum publicly as to who they would take in the draft. But all indications at this point in the process are pointing towards them selecting Fultz with the top overall selection.
 
And the fact that Ball, the projected number two pick even before the draft lottery order was established, refuses to work out for Boston will only increase the likelihood that Fultz will be a Celtic and Ball and his camp will get their wish which has always been to don a Los Angeles Lakers jersey.