There are five games in the NBA on Tuesday night and the standout game sees old rivals Boston Celtics and the Lakers meet in Los Angeles.
These two teams share the record for most championship wins with 17 each, and there is a chance one of these historic franchises could claim the record for themselves this season.
Boston boast a league-best overall record of 21-7, while the Lakers have improved after a terrible start to the season and are starting to look like realistic championship contenders once again.
This is the second of two huge non-conference match-ups on Tuesday as earlier in the evening defending champions Golden State Warriors face 2021 winners the Bucks in Milwaukee.
What: Boston Celtics @ Los Angeles Lakers
Where: Crytpo.com Arena, Los Angeles
When: 22:00, Tuesday 13th December (Eastern Time)
How to watch: NBA League Pass, TNT
Odds: Boston Celtics -160 Money Line, Los Angeles Lakers +140
It has been over a year since these two giants last met, with the Lakers claiming a 117-102 win at this venue in December last year, and much has changed in the intervening 12 months.
The Lakers opted to part company with 2020 championship winning coach Frank Vogel at the end of last season, hiring former Milwaukee assistant Darvin Ham as a replacement after a brief search.
Boston have also been forced to hire a new coach as Ime Udoka, who guided them to the Eastern Conference title last season before they lost in six games to Golden State, was suspended for the entirety of the campaign – with Joe Mazzulla stepping up from his role of assistant to take the reins.
The Celtics complete a four-game road trip on Tuesday in LA and they have faced some of the best in the West during this period.
Boston began their trip with an impressive win over Phoenix Suns but they then slipped to defeat at an improving Dubs side, and on Monday they lost out at this venue to the Clippers.
The fact Boston are playing back-to-back games in LA will work against them as Mazzulla may opt to limit the minutes of some of his stars against the Lakers, with MVP contender Jayson Tatum playing for 37 minutes on Monday.
In contrast, the Lakers have had a few days of rest as they were last in action on Sunday as they completed a six-game road trip in the East with a victory at Detroit Pistons. The Lakers went 3-3 during that spell and they should welcome being back at home, where they have four wins in their last five games.
Tatum is one of the frontrunners for the MVP honour, but the Lakers have an outside contender on their roster as fit-again Anthony Davis is having a sublime season.
The center managed just 40 games last season due to injury, having played in 36 the year before, but he has largely managed to avoid any serious issues this term and has only missed three games. Davis is averaging 27.7 points-per-game, his highest total since swapping New Orleans for California, and a career and league high 12.4 rebounds.
LeBron James is still posting impressive numbers ahead of his 38th birthday later this month, with 26.2 points-per-game, 8.6 rebounds and 6.3 assists, and if the two Lakers stars can continue to perform at the levels they are there is a real chance this team could be serious contenders in the playoffs – despite the fact they currently sit outside the postseason spots after a difficult start.
The Lakers have close to a clean bill of health ahead of Tuesday’s game as reserve forwards Wenyen Gabriel (shoulder) and Juan Toscano-Anderson (ankle) are their only absentees.
Boston coach Mazzulla may rotate a little after a hectic period but the Celtics’ key men should all play significant minutes regardless, although veteran center Al Horford seems set to miss a fifth game through illness and Robert Williams is expected to miss out again with a knee injury.