Preview: Lakers at Boston Celtics

Previewing the Lakers-Celtics game on Friday night in Boston

The Lakers (5-14) finish a three-game trip on Friday by visiting the Boston Celtics (5-11).

Boston is a high-scoring squad, on par with the Lakers (almost 104 points a game), with a tendency to fall out of games in the fourth quarter. The Lakers typically have had more troubles in the third quarter.

The Celtics aren't very good defensively, giving up an average of 107.3 points a game, still less than the Lakers' 111.1.

The Lakers will play without Xavier Henry (Achilles' tendon), Ryan Kelly (hamstring), Steve Nash (back) and Julius Randle (leg).

Even when both teams are down and out, there's always something special about a Lakers-Celtics game.

Key matchup

The Celtics have a number of scorers, which helps make them difficult to defend.

Jeff Green is the team's leading scorer at an average of 19 points a game. He's shooting 44% from the field and 30.6% from three-point range.

Wesley Johnson will likely get the assignment against Green.  Johnson has played some of his best basketball of the season in recent games, although he struggled Wednesday against the Washington Wizards.

Johnson's offense comes and goes but more important, the Lakers want him to be a consistent, top-notch defender.

X-factor

Rajon Rondo doesn't regularly look to score, but he's still one of the best playmakers in the league. His focus is setting up his long list of scorers, including Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, Evan Turner, Brandon Bass, Marcus Thornton and Green.

The Celtics can put up some points, which is why the Lakers need to give an even greater effort defensively.

Lakers center Jordan Hill is an important player Friday, with his offensive rebounding and streaky jump shot. The Lakers' spacing improves dramatically when Hill is hitting from the outside.

Outlook

The Lakers have a real chance to get the win in Boston. It's a coin flip, but one slightly favoring the home team.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus

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