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Game #54 - Preview: Boston Celtics @ Portland Trailblazers

Boston Celtics
Record: 41-12
Last Ten Games: 6-4
Points scored per game: 100.1
Points allowed per game: 90.6   
Pace Factor: 91.2 (16th of 30)
Offensive Rating: 109.3 (10th of 30)
Defensive Rating: 98.9 (1st of 30)

Portland Trailblazers
Record: 29-26
Last Ten Games: 3-7
Points scored per game: 95.2
Points allowed per game: 95.7
Pace Factor: 87.8 (29th of 30)
Offensive Rating: 106.8 (14th of 30)
Defensive Rating: 107.4 (20th of 30)

Hat tip to for info on the Celtics and the Trailblazers.


Rajon Rondo vs. Steve Blake
Ray Allen vs. Jarrett Jack
Paul Pierce vs. Brandon Roy
Kevin Garnett vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
Kendrick Perkins vs. Joel Przybilla

Blazers' Starting 5?

I was surprised to see that Portland went with Jack, Blake, Roy, Aldridge and Przybilla as a starting lineup it its last game. Blake and Jack both play the point and Roy is a combo guard. It would make more sense to go with Travis Outlaw or Martell Webster and then bring Jack or Blake off the bench. However, that's been the starting 5 in the 3 games since the All Star Break. And Nate McMillan knows a lot more about basketball than I do. One question though: Who guards Paul Pierce?

Schedule Notes

Both teams played on Friday and had Saturday off. However, Portland spent its week at home for Sacramento and Seattle and on the road against those same Sonics. Meanwhile, the Celtics had those shootouts in Denver and Golden State and bottomed out in a loss at Phoenix. From a scheduling standpoint the Trailblazers have the edge on this one.

Last Time They Met

After the Celtics pulled out a 100-90 victory Brandon Roy said the folloiwng:

"We've been playing to win lately, but tonight I think we just came in to give them a good game. The next time we play them we have to believe that we can actually beat them.'' - Brandon Roy

I'd say Kevin Garnett's presence has a lot to do with that. However, Ray Allen and his 35 points may have been the bigger story from that game. It was one of those nights in Allen's inconsistent season where he was really feeling it. A lot of guys can score 35 points but not many can do on 12-20 from the field and 7-8 from the free throw line.

Since They Last Met

The Trailblazers have struggled mightily with a 6-11 record. It started off as a win one, lose one type of streak but then spiraled downward. In fact if it were not for a victory over the lowly Sonics, Portland would be in the midst of a 7 game losing streak. Meanwhile, it has been a roller coaster for the Celtics. KG went down with an abdominal injury and Paul Pierce carried the team for a while. Boston fans rejoiced over wins against the Mavericks and Spurs sans Garnett. Unfortunately much of that optimism is disappearing following back-to-back-to-back losses to the Nuggets, Warriors and Suns. More on that later.

The Three Game Losing Streak

I find myself torn between, "Relax it is February and KG is working his way back into shape" and "this team may have peaked too soon and then been surpassed by teams that made big trades". Regular readers know I'm too optimistic to stay in the latter camp for very long. But there is some concern. Thankfully the defense returned on Friday after a 2 game hiatus. But the offense was woeful. I understand that the C's offense will never resemble what the Suns do. But they missed a bunch of shots they should hit against Phoenix and got caught up in a one-on-one/iso themed offense. The Celtics need to move the ball and get some easy baskets.

They're Still Young

For a team that won 13 in a row at one point and then 17 of 18, it is odd that Portland is only 3 games over .500. I think it is due to a combination of things. Brandon Roy missed some time, which is never a good thing. Add that to their inexperience, reliance on outside shots, the rest of the League figuring them out and the fact that they could not stay that hot forever, and perhaps it is not that surprising. Well it turns out that I was partly correct and Dave from Blazers Edge has a more in depth list. Still Portland can be a dangerous team, particularly at home. Along those same lines I had an interesting e-mail exchange with Dave earlier this month about a Blazers/Nuggets game.

Green Bandwagon:

"I just watched the following sequence:
  1. Steal by Jarrett Jack, dishes to Brandon Roy for a bucket. Down 9.
  2. Missed shot by Carmelo Anthony. Brandon Roy grabs a rebound, hits a jumper on the other end. Down 7.
  3. Steal by Roy. Passes to Steve Blake for an open three. Down 4.
  4. Timeout. The joint is rocking.
What an exciting team."

Dave was not as quick to buy in to the mini run. His first response was brief,

"They always make a run at it but we have to get more consistent. - Dave from Blazers Edge

Unfortunately a later e-mail confirmed his concerns about consistency,

"Still watching?
How about turnover...three
missed shot...three
turnover...miss, offensive rebound, alley-oop?" - Dave from Blazers Edge

Must Win?

I think Celtics fans need this one more than the team itself does. Still a 2-3 trip is a lot more appealing than a 1-4 or 0-5 West Coast swing. And this is a game the Celtics should win. I'd feel a lot better about the C's as a team if they showed up and took care of business.


PAIN! Just kidding. That was fun though. Boston does just enough to win. And you check out Blazers Edge.

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