Portland Trailblazers (8-9, 4-6 Away) @ Boston Celtics (13-4, 9-2 Home)
Time: 7:30 PM EST, December 1st, 2010
Venue: TD Garden
Officials: Tom Washington Derek Richardson Leon Wood
TV: NBATV, CSNNE Radio: WEEI
The Line: The Celtics are on a 4 game winning streak (tying their season high so far), while the Blazers are trying to avoid their 5th straight loss, which would equal thier longest streak in 5 years (they did it twice in 07-08). The Blazers are 1-5 against Boston since Kevin Garnett arrived.
This, my friends, could be the start of something wonderful. The Celtics' margin of victory over the past 4 games is +14.25 points per contest. That means they outscore opponents by an average of 14 points per game over the last 4. That's good for 1st in the NBA over that span. Tonight, the Celtics face off against the reeling Trailblazers, and after that they play just two 'elite' teams in the next 11 games.
Normally, I'd be incredibly excited for tonight's game, as one of my favorite (if not just my flat out favorite) non-Celtics, Brandon Roy, comes to town with his usually scrappy and middle talented team. But, Brandon Roy is playing hurt...and I mean REALLY hurt, as in you can just watch him and know he's not the same player. Barring breakout games from Lamarcus Aldridge or Andre Miller, the Celtics defense should eat these guys up, back to back game or not.
That's why tonight is night to be savored. The stage is set for the official "we're going to go on a hot streak" breakout game. The signs are clear...the weather is crappy out, its a Wednesday so everyone will be watching, and the Celtics are playing some excellent ball right now. Tonight should be a win, although since it is a back-to-back, I can't guarantee a blow-out.
Injuries And Stuff: Kendrick Perkins (SAFARI), Jermaine O'Neal (OUT), Delonte West (OUT)
Injuries And Stuff: Greg Oden (OUT), Joel Pryzbilla (OUT)
Matchup Of The Night: Aldridge V Garnett
LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging career highs in scoring and rebounding, and since consistency has always been Aldridge's major limiting factor, he's becoming an increasingly dangerous piece. He's tied with Brandon Roy as the scoring leader for the Blazers, and is an important part of any game plan from Portland. That, however, is about to be rendered irrelevant. Kevin Garnett is currently playing his best basketball since 2007-2008, and his defense is as good as it has ever been since he's been in green. Kevin Garnett, if he plays like he has been recently (he's held opposing PF's to less than 10 points in 3 of the last 4 games), should eat Aldridge for lunch.
Three Keys For The Good Guys:
1) Take Advantage When They Sit Brandon Roy- When Roy is on the floor, even in his injured state, he's going to dominate the ball, and he's going to get his teammates involved. He's still an elite player even with the bum knee. Shutting down everyone besides Roy is a major key to victory, and taking advantage of the depleted and demoralized team when given the chance is another.
2) See Their Intensity, And Raise Them- Portland will not lay down for anyone, especially a team that should be 'better' than they are. That's just how they are..they get up for games against elite teams. That said, there is little chance that Portland will be able to sustain a 'world beaters' level of energy all night if Boston can match their intensity early on. If Portland gets its licks in early though, and Boston doesn't rise to the challenge, those crazy lil Blazers might get it in their heads that they can steal one, and they'll become absolutely incorrigible after the half. Got to stamp out the fire early.
3) We Need To Know Their Role (Players)- Wes Matthews was inserted into the starting lineup in place of Nic Batum last game, and has been Portland's leading scorer for the last two contests. Now, Brandon Roy is defying suggestions that he rest, because I believe he thinks his boys need some leadership, and they need a win. Brandon Roy will score 20 points tonight, I promise. The thing I would like to avoid however, is allowing anyone else that particular honor. Both Matthews and Nic Batum are potent scorers on the right nights, and they need to be dealt with accordingly.