After an impressive, seven-game road trip in which they finished 4-3 without the services of their top two players in LeBron James (right, high-ankle sprain) and Anthony Davis (right calf strain), the Los Angeles Lakers return to Staples Center to host the Boston Celtics on Thursday.
And for the first time this season, Los Angeles County will allow fans in attendance. The Lakers confirmed about 2,000 fans will be allowed into Staples Center, which brought a smile to the face of head coach Frank Vogel.
“Man, I can’t wait,” Vogel said. “The mystique of being in that building with our great fans is a big part of why it’s so cool to be a Laker. And it’s just been absent this year, and it’s been missed. We’re excited to have our fans back, for sure.”
The Lakers are scheduled to unveil the team’s championship banner from L.A.’s NBA title run in the Orlando bubble last season on the final home game of the regular season May 12 against the Houston Rockets.
One thing Vogel and the Lakers will have to work on when they return home is getting new addition Andre Drummond going. After averaging 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in his first two full games with the Lakers — including a big win over the Brooklyn Nets last week — Drummond scored a combined seven points in the last two games.
“Offensively, it’s probably the worst I’ve played in my career, so I’m still trying to figure it out here,” Drummond said. “But I’m not allowing it to take me out of my game. I know why I’m here, which is to help this team out defensively. Offensively, it will come for me.”
The visiting Celtics will try to earn a measure of revenge after losing to Los Angeles 96-95 on Jan. 30 in Boston.
Of course, James and Davis were healthy for that game, combining for 48 points and 21 rebounds.
The Celtics enter Thursday’s contest playing good basketball, riding a four-game win streak and winners of six of their last seven games. Boston currently sits as the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, but Jayson Tatum said he’s not concerned about earning home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
“We know it’s been an up-and-down season,” Tatum said. “We’ve had to battle a lot of things with Covid, and guys being injured. We’re just trying to build momentum. We’re trying to get where we want to be. Wherever we fall in the playoff seeding, we’ll be fine. We’ll be ready. We just want to feel good about ourselves when that time comes.”
Tatum has been the catalyst offensively for Boston during the team’s winning ways. Tatum is averaging 31.6 points and 8.6 rebounds a contest over his last five games. Tatum earned Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors for his efforts last week.
However, Tatum said he’s still recovering from having COVID-19, using an inhaler before games to help open his lungs.
“This is about the time with the number of games where last year he started to take off,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said about Tatum. “You can kind of see over the last number of weeks that he’s really into a rhythm of knowing what he wants to do on a given possession, and then knowing where his opportunities are going to come from it.”
–Field Level Media