Celtics star Kyrie Irving is aware of what’s on the line as he prepares to face the LeBron James-led Lakers on Saturday, but he’s calling it “just another game.”
In the first matchup of the season, the Lakers finished with a one-point victory as they topped the Celtics, 129-128. But Irving said it’s been easy to tune out the hype of facing off against his former teammate and is focused on the rematch, instead.
“It’s pretty easy,” Irving said, per masslive.com. “It’s not hard. It’s not hard at all. It’s just another game but going against a great competitor, a teammate like ’Bron is always fun. You just understand that these head-to-head matchups probably will happen for a few more years and you just want to take advantage of them. Just the great players you get a chance to play against in our league, you always want to play well.”
When asked if Saturday’s game will be one of revenge after February’s frustrating loss, Irving said: “I wouldn’t call it revenge. I would just call it us focusing on what we can control and just being successful for each other.”
Although the Lakers have struggled of late, Boston coach Brad Stevens indicated his team is still cautious of what Los Angeles is capable of if the team breaks away. The Lakers reportedly put LeBron James on a minute restriction earlier this week as their playoff chances become slimmer and slimmer, but Stevens knows anything can change in a primetime matchup.
“Our guys know, everybody paying attention to the news, you see the talk about LeBron’s minutes and all that stuff, (but) we know it’s not the case tomorrow against the Celtics in a national TV game on Saturday night,” Stevens said.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to have to play really well to win. We have a lot of respect for the team, we have a lot of respect for all their guys, and they beat us last time, and they thoroughly outplayed us for 30 minutes of that game.”
The Celtics enter Saturday’s game with a 40-26 record and sit fifth in the Eastern Conference, while the Lakers are 30-35 and 11th in the West.