Amid trade buzz, Lakers visit Celtics on deadline day
Two teams rumored to be interested in acquiring Anthony Davis meet, coincidentally, on trade-deadline day Thursday when the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Boston Celtics.
The nationally televised contest is scheduled to tip off five hours after the NBA trade deadline, which should allow each team to focus on basketball for the first time since Davis made his intentions to leave New Orleans known last week.
The Lakers seemed to be drowning in rumors when they got fleeced 136-94 at Indiana on Tuesday night in the most one-sided loss of LeBron James' career.
At one point in the game, Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, rumored to have been offered by the Lakers to the Pelicans this week, became engulfed in chants of "LeBron's going to trade you" as he stepped to the free-throw line.
"Yeah, I heard it," Ingram admitted to reporters after the game. "I still made free throws. I've been through and heard worse -- way worse things in my life."
The fans also chanted at center JaVale McGee, "Not worth trading."
James has quite a history with the Celtics, having already faced them 90 times in his 17 seasons. That includes 41 playoff head-to-heads, with James coming out on top in 25 of those games.
In fact, nine of James' last 14 visits to Boston have been for playoff games, with his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, having won six of those nine, including Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals last May.
This visit will be his first as a member of the Lakers (27-27), who have dropped into fourth place in the Pacific Division and currently out of playoff position.
A Lakers-Celtics matchup this season means a duel between former Cleveland teammates James and Kyrie Irving, who combined to lead the Cavaliers to the 2016 championship.
It's possible both will be teammates again next week at the NBA All-Star Game, where James, as a team captain, will get a chance to draft Irving onto his team if rival captain Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn't picking Irving before him, from a pool of players that includes Golden State stars Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.
Between now and then, the Lakers must play three more games on their current Eastern swing, with no let-up this weekend when they visit Philadelphia.
The Celtics (35-19), meanwhile, set aside a bit of a distraction when they visited James' old home Tuesday and came away with a 103-96 win at Cleveland.
The win was Boston's fifth straight and 10th in 11 games. It also came on a night on which Gordon Hayward was making his return to Cleveland for the first time since breaking his leg there in last year's season opener.
Hayward contributed 18 points to the win.
Unlike their Lakers counterparts, most Celtics players expected a quiet trade-deadline day, with the club starting to heat up.
"I think it should stay the same," Marcus Morris responded to reporters after the Cleveland game when asked if he thought the roster would be changing in the next 48 hours. "Guys are playing into what's going on, (the All-Star Game) is about to pass and that's when it ramps up. Guys want to play the way they're supposed to during winning time, like we did last year when the intensity picked up. We should stay the same."
The Celtics have won the last two from the Lakers in Boston, including 107-96 last season.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 7, 2019