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Celtics Look to Salvage Trip in Portland


Boston Celtics (41-12) at Portland Trail Blazers (29-26)
Sunday, February, 24
6:00 PM ET
Game #54, Road Game #27
TV:  NBA LP ch 754, CSN ch37, CSN HD
Radio:  Sirius 119, WEEI
Rose Garden Arena
Chat   l  Game Thread 

Blazers Coverage     The Inferno   l   Blazers Edge       

The Celtics have lost 3 in a row and are coming off  one of their worst performances of the season.  They are looking to salvage this road trip with a win in Portland.   But,l they are  facing yet another team who will be looking for vengeance for a previous loss.   The Celtics beat the Trailblazers 100-90 on January 16 in the Garden and I am sure that they are going to come out motivated to even the score.  The Blazers started off  the season strong and were one of the surprises on the year, but they have been faltering lately.   Nate McMillan has been experimenting with his starting lineup and now has 2 point guards starting in Jarrett Jack and Steve Blake. This moves Brandon Roy to the small forward.   In the first matchup between these teams, Ray Allen scored a season high 35 points on Roy who was then playing at the 2. 
The Blazers are just 3-7 in their last 10 games and they have lost 10 of their last 14.   As we have seen in the past though, there is nothing like playing the Celtics to pull a team out of a slump.  The Blazers are 12-12 against Eastern Conference teams and are a strong home team with a 21-7 record at home.  The Celtics need to win this one to salvage this trip.   Their offense was great in the first two games but they didn't play much defense.  Against Phoenix, they got back to playing defense but couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.  In this game they have to try to put it all together and get a win.  The Celtics certainly want to avoid a 4 game losing streak and I think they will come out ready to play and pull this one out.   

Probable Starting Matchups
PG:   Rajon Rondo vs Jarrett Jack
SG:   Ray Allen vs Steve Blake
SF:    Paul Pierce vs Brandon Roy
PF:    Kevin Garnett vs LaMarcus Aldridge
C:      Kendrick Perkins vs Joel Przybilla 
Key Matchups
Paul Pierce   PPG 20.5 | RPG 5.6 | APG 4.8
Brandon Roy   PPG 19.5 | RPG 4.9 | APG 5.8
This should be a good matchup.  Their stats are very similar and both have similar games in that they are slashers but who can hit from the outside.  Both are strong and have an all around game. Hopefully Pierce will shoot better than he did against Phoenix.   

Kevin Garnett   PPG 18.8 | RPG 9.9 | BPG 1.4
LaMarcus Aldridge   PPG 17.0 | RPG 7.5 | BPG 1.4
This should also be a good  matchup of similar players.  Hopefully KG will be back to 100% for this game as we will need him. 

Honorable Mention
Rajon Rondo vs Jarrett Jack.  Rondo has the speed advantage.  He should be able to get past Jack and get to the hoop at will.  His defense should also cause Jack some problems on the other end. 
Keys to the Game
Be Aggressive
The Celtics need to be aggressive in going after loose balls and rebounds and in taking the ball to the hoop and not settling for outside shots.  The Celtics were outrebounded by the Suns and they will need to be aggressive on the boards to avoid that again. 

Bench Play   House has been very streaky and his shot hasn't been falling.   Posey seems to be struggling and for some reason Doc played Leon Powe only 4 minutes iin Phoenix in spite of the fact that he had 2 rebounds and 2 points in those 4 minutes.  They will need more production from the bench if they want to win this one. 

Defense The Celtics got back to playing defense against the Suns, and hopefully they will continue to play defense in this game.  They can't outscore teams and need to get stops if they want to win.

Ball movement The Celtics have gotten away from moving the ball and finding the open man. They aren't looking to go inside as much in recent games (which could be the result of some very poor officiating)  and need to get back to what made them so successful early.   They have to stop taking quick shots and going one on one and move without the ball to get open shots.
Putting it all together.  The offense was firing on all cylinders for the first two games but there was no defense.  The defense was clicking in Phoenix, but the offense wasn't working.   The Celtics need to put it all together and get both parts of their game working.  The X-Factor in all this may be fatigue.  This is the 4th game of a 5 game trip and they have to dig deep if they want to get back in the winning column.   

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