The Celtics host the Trailblazers for the first of two games this season. They will play one more time on Portland on March 23. These two teams split the series last season 1-1 with each team winning on the road.
The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games and have won 3 straight. They are 20-8 at home and 14-5 vs Western Conference teams. The Blazers are 7-3 in their last 10 games and are coming off a loss. They are 14-13 on the road and 13-9 vs Eastern Conference teams.
The Celtics remain very short handed with Gordon Hayward (ankle), Kyrie Irving (quad), Shane Larkin (knee), Marcus Morris (hip), and Marcus Smart (hand) all out. Greg Monroe may very well make his debut in this game for the Celtics.
For the Trailblazers, CJ Wilcox is out with a knee injury. Evan Turner is probable with a calf injury. Shabazz Napier is questionable with a toe injury.
Probable Celtics Starters
Gordon Hayward (ankle) out
Marcus Smart (hand) out
Shane Larkin (knee) out
Kyrie Irving (quad) out
Marcus Morris (hip) out
Two Way Players
Probable Trail Blazers Starters
Wade Baldwin IV
Evan Turner (calf) probable
Shabazz Napier (toe) questionable
CJ Wilcox (knee) out
Terry Rozier vs Damian Lillard
Terry Rozier will have his hands full guarding Damien Lillard who is averaging 25.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game. Lillard averaged 28 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 7.0 assists in two games vs the Celtics last season. Terry Rozier has had 2 big games in his first two starts. He needs to continue to play well for the Celtics to have a chance in this one.
Jaylen Brown vs CJ McCollum
While Rozier is working to guard Lillard, Brown will have a challenge of his own trying to stay with CJ McCollum, who is averaging 21.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Last season McCollum averaged 27.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals in two games vs the Celtics last season. He is coming off a 50 point game on Thursday vs the Bulls. The Celtics will need to play tough defense to try to control Portland’s high scoring back court duo.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is a key to winning every game. The Celtics have to continue to play tough defense in order to get a win, especially playing short handed.
Rebound - The Celtics must make an extra effort to grab rebounds in order to give themselves extra possessions as well as to keep the Blazers from cashing in with second chance points. The Celtics simply must work harder on the boards if they want to win this one.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics have to be the team that works harder and wants the win more. They have to dive for loose balls, go for every rebound and just hustle on every play. They have to be aggressive in getting to the basket as well and not settle for outside shots, especially if they aren’t falling. They need to outwork the Blazers who should be feeling the effects of travel.
Next Man Up - The Celtics have played short handed two games in a row and players have stepped up to fill in the blanks left by injured teammates. They need to continue to step up and play harder if they want to get a win.
Home Game - The Celtics are finishing up a 3 game home stand while the Trailblazers are starting a 2 game road trip. The Celtics should get a boost from the home crowd.