Every Laker fan has had December 25th circled on their calendar since the day the NBA schedule for this season was released. That's because it's L.A.'s first crack at getting some revenge on the team that kept them from winning a championship last June: the Boston Celtics. But while fans may be geeked for the game, Phil Jacksonpoints out that his Lakers may be too exhausted by the time it starts to put forth their best effort.
“It’s a gimmick game,” Jackson said. “We get back at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning (on Dec.23), (then) practice on the 24th. It’s almost unfair after four games in five days (on the road). Obviously we have something to draw on from last June, but that was a long time ago. … It’s a good game, everybody will be watching it. But as far as teams being in the best position to play, I don’t know.”
The Lakers aren't the only ones who might be tired for this one. Boston will be playing it's fifth game in eight days, and the first of four games to kick off a West coast road trip. They'll also have to travel from Boston to Los Angeles, although if they leave after their game against the Sixers on the 23rd, at least they'll have a day in town to rest up.
Phil's quotes are an obvious attempt to lower expectations (and prevent a meltdown) in case the Celtics come in here and get a win, but he might also have a legitimate point. Christmas Day games are about ratings, and putting the two best teams on the marquee is going to guarantee that plenty of families will be spending at least part of Christmas together yelling at the television. It will probably be some kind of Christmas miracle though if the quality of play is anywhere close to what we saw when the teams last met in the Finals.