• The Lakers (17-29) renew their rivalry with the Boston Celtics (34-13) in a nationally televised game on Tuesday.

    At the moment, these are two teams on the opposite end of the spectrum as the Celtics are in first place in the Eastern Conference and have a fully stocked cupboard as far as future assets are concerned. The Lakers have a losing record, very few assets, and are hoping this summer lends their franchise direction. Boston is in a bit of a recent skid, losing three in a row and threatening to lose four in a row for the first time in two years.

    This offseason, the Celtics cashed in some of their assets to trade for Kyrie Irving as well as used their hard-earned cap space to sign Gordon Hayward. Before the Celtics were able to reap any benefits from their moves, they watched in horror as Hayward suffered a gruesome ankle injury on opening night, ending his season before he played a single complete game for the storied franchise.

    However, coach Brad Stevens has instilled sound defensive principles in Boston, helping to lead them to the third best record in the NBA.

    The offense runs through Irving who is averaging 24.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.7 3-pointers while shooting 47.6 percent from the floor and 88.4 percent from the line. He is a true MVP candidate in his first season in Boston.

    One of the silver linings to the Hayward injury has been the additional playing time afforded No. 3 overall pick Jayson Tatum. He is tallying 13.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.9 blocks while shooting 49.3 percent from the field, 81.7 percent from the free throw line and 45.1 percent from 3-point range. It’s hard to imagine that the Celtics were able to accrue Tatum, a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year, and a future first round pick from the 76ers for the rights to Markelle Fultz, who has not been able to spend any time on the court for Philadelphia.

    The Lakers have won two games in a row, which is more impressive considering they have been missing their starting backcourt of Lonzo Ball and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for both of those contests. What is even more exciting for Laker fans is that the team has won six of their last eight, while playing much better defense and showing significant progress.

    Jordan Clarkson has been stellar for Los Angeles during this two-game streak, averaging 31.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting a blistering 68.4 percent from the field.

    Julius Randle is also coming off a huge game in which he outplayed Kristaps Porzingis, accumulating 27 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and one block.

    One pleasant surprise for the Lakers was reserve point guard Alex Caruso who played a career-high 31 minutes while accruing nine points, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. He severely outplayed Tyler Ennis and may have earned a larger role going forward.

    Key Stats

    • The Celtics are an elite defensive team ranking first in both defensive rating (99.7) and defensive efficiency (.989) while the Lakers are 10th in rating (104.7) and eleventh in defensive efficiency (1.040). Los Angeles is fourth in defensive rating over the last eight contests (99.0), during which they have won six games.
    • The Lakers turn the ball over 16.4 times per game (29th) vs. the Celtics who only turn the ball over 14.2 times per game (12th).
    • Los Angeles is shooting a league worst 68.8 percent from the free throw line while Boston shoots 76.4 percent (15th).
    • The Lakers convert 33.1 percent from 3-point range (15th) compared to the Celtics who make 36.5 percent of their shots from 3-point range.
    • Los Angeles leads the league in pace at 103.24 possessions per 48 minutes vs. Boston who averages 97.95 possessions per 48 minutes (21st).

    Projected Starting Rosters

    Lakers

    Tyler Ennis (PG)

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG)

    Brandon Ingram (SF)

    Julius Randle (PF)

    Brook Lopez (C)

    Celtics

    Kyrie Irving (PG)

    Jaylen Brown (SG)

    Jayson Tatum (SF)

    Aron Baynes (PF)

    Al Horford (C)

    Injury Report

    Lakers 

    Lonzo Ball (knee) – OUT

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Achilles) – ACTIVE

    Brandon Ingram (ankle) – ACTIVE

    Celtics

    Gordon Hayward (ankle) – OUT

    Broadcast Information

    Time: 7:30 PM PST, 10:30 PM EST

    Television: TNT, NBC SPORTS BOSTON, TNT-SAP,

    Radio: 710 AM ESPN, 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES, 98.5 THE SPORTS HUB

     

     

Fantasy News

  • Lauri Markkanen
    PF, Chicago Bulls

    Lauri Markkanen is currently shooting 27% from three and 39% from the field.

    What's more, the shots Lauri's missing are his bread and butter: wide open, spot-up opportunities from distance. His most frequent shot types from long range have been stationary threes, on which he's shooting 28%, but the real indicator that positive regression is coming is that he's shooting only 26.5% from three when wide open (nearest defender 6+ feet away). Markkanen, of course, was 38% and 43% on spot-up and wide open threes last year, respectively. There is a major ball movement concern in Chicago as they continue to play their PGs out of position and task Zach "TO Machine" LaVine with primary ballhandling duties, but this screams buy low opportunity. Test the waters to see how frustrated other managers may be with Markkanen. A stretch like the one he had last February could vault him into the top 50 in no time.

    Source: NBC Sports Chicago

  • Luke Kennard
    SG, Detroit Pistons

    Coach Dwane Casey has entrusted Luke Kennard with playmaking duties following the injuries to Derrick Rose (hamstring) and Tim Frazier (hamstring), and it has resulted in a career-high 4.2 assists per game for the third-year SG.

    Kennard’s breakout season is in full swing, as the main obstacle for him had always been Dwane Casey’s reluctance to play him big minutes. Expect Kennard’s stats to stabilize once Blake Griffin’s minutes cap is lifted, but Kennard has cemented himself as a go-to offensive option in the first unit, particularly in the pick-and-roll which amounts to more than 30% of his play types to date. As long as Casey doesn’t inexplicably insert usage monster Derrick Rose into the starting lineup to mess with Kennard’s rhythm, the third-year SG should be able to return top 80 value for the rest of the season. Also, the source article reveals that this lefty shooter is actually right-handed. Go figure.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Kevin Love
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    The Heat-Cavs game in Cleveland on Thursday will start at 6pm EST, an hour earlier than usual.

    The Browns are playing the Steelers in the neighboring stadium, so it appears that the Cavs are just taking careful measures so that each Cleveland franchise loses in an orderly fashion. Start your Heat and Cavs players as you normally would, but just remember the unusually early tipoff tonight, particularly for DFS.

    Source: Ira Winderman on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    LeBron James put together a double-double in Wednesday's 120-94 win against the Warriors, ending with 23 points, six rebounds, 12 assists, a steal and a block.

    James is now averaging 11.1 assists per game and is still getting his when it comes to scoring. He is just inside the top-25 right now and will keep filling the stat sheet all season.

  • Kyle Kuzma
    PF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kyle Kuzma started and finished Wednesday night's contest with 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting, five rebounds, two assists, and three 3-pointers.

    Kuzma has put together a nice streak of games. He adds scoring and 3-pointers, but can't find a way to help teams in other categories. Kuzma will likely end up having late-round value at this pace.

  • JaVale McGee
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    JaVale McGee put up a double-double on Wednesday, finishing with 18 points, 17 boards, two assists, three steals and three blocks.

    McGee was the better center in this contest and played 28 minutes to Dwight Howard's (15 points, eight rebounds, three assists, one block) 20 minutes. McGee put up one of his best performances of the season, but it's hard to get too excited by one night of work. Howard seems to be the center to own for the Lakers.

  • D'Angelo Russell
    PG, Golden State Warriors

    D'Angelo Russell ended the night with 21 points, two rebounds, eight assists, a steal and a block.

    Russell is clearly the go-to option on this Golden State team. He is a top-40 guy right now and has the potential to keep that up for the rest of the year.

  • Draymond Green
    PF, Golden State Warriors

    Draymond Green didn't contribute much on Wednesday, ending with 10 points, only one rebound, five assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers.

    Green contributed in each category, barely. It was nice to see him knock down a couple shots from beyond the arc, but these are hardly the numbers owners were expecting when taking Green in the early rounds. He is currently returning top-125 value and could be a great buy-low opportunity, but it's hard to trust much on the Warriors right now.

  • Willie Cauley-Stein
    C, Golden State Warriors

    Willie Cauley-Stein scored 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting and added five rebounds, three assists and two blocks on Wednesday.

    Cauley-Stein had the best game of the Golden State big men (Marquese Chriss ended scoreless with six boards, two assists and two blocks) and is having a top-100 year so far. He might be doing it quietly, but it's hard to fault you if want to pick up Cauley-Stein now.

  • Eric Paschall
    PF, Golden State Warriors

    Eric Paschall came off the bench on Wednesday and dropped 15 points with three rebounds.

    Paschall still logged 32 minutes but didn't stuff the stat sheet like we have seen in the past. He put a nice move on LeBron, but he is starting to regress despite taking 15 shots in this one. If you picked him up, he is worth holding onto for a bit longer.