LOS ANGELES -- With the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers entering Friday's game with the worst combined winning percentage in matchup history, Celtics first-year head coach Brad Stevens was asked if the two teams' struggles -- along with all the fresh faces to the rivalry -- takes anything away from the meeting.
"Well, a lot of us in the locker room have never been a part of those [rivalry] games, right? But I think everybody gets it and I think that everybody, at different times throughout their lives, has watched it in awe," said Stevens. "Certainly, I would be an example of that when you think of the fact that, when you were a kid in the '80s, this was what was on TV. It felt like Boston and LA were playing every Sunday, I don’t think that’s probably true, but maybe it was. But it was the only game, I felt like, that ever got on TV. Those were the games we watched. That’s special to think back about those times and hopefully both of us are not where we are long."
Added Stevens: "Obviously, neither of us are as good as we want to be. I think that’s obvious. And I think, certainly, [the Lakers have] been hit harder than anybody else in the league with injuries. And really have done a great job through it, in my opinion. When they came to our place [last month], I thought they played so well together. [Lakers coach Mike] D’Antoni’s system has always been one that skilled guys thrive in. So you’ve got a guy, Ryan Kelly is a great example, you kinda plug in and away he goes. Kendall Marshall’s got great savvy out on the floor -- away he goes, just getting plugged into that. Take [Pau] Gasol off the court for them, it’s a little bit more difficult as we’ve seen the last couple of weeks. But Gasol is back and Gasol was really the difference-maker in our game. Not only when he scored, but when he created for others with the amount of attention we gave to him."