Game Preview: Trail Blazers at Celtics
The Portland Trail Blazers will attempt to extend a four-game win streak when they head out on the road. The first opponent they'll face will be seeking to bounce back from the end to a four-game run.
The Boston Celtics will also try to earn a 10th consecutive home victory against the Blazers on Friday night.
Portland's streak appeared that it might be in jeopardy Wednesday until Damian Lillard made a layup with 6.5 seconds left in a 90-89 win over Phoenix. The Blazers have earned only one of their four straight wins on the road and will play their next four away from home.
"We've got a chance to really pull away from some teams out here in the West," guard Wesley Matthews said. "We're playing good basketball and we feel confident that we can beat any team that we play against. We feel confident on the road."
Portland will make its first stop in Boston, where the Celtics had their rally from an 0-4 start slowed with an 89-83 defeat to Charlotte on Wednesday. Boston shot 37.7 percent and missed 14 of 21 attempts from 3-point range.
"They beat us with effort. They beat us to all the loose balls and rebounds. It's not really (a game) to throw away. It's one to look at to see where we can get better," guard Jordan Crawford said.
The Celtics are expected to get Jared Sullinger back Friday after the forward sat out because of a bruised right knee.
"I plan on going," Sullinger, averaging 11.3 points and 5.1 rebounds, told the team's official website. "It was just tough for me to land and jump confidently so I just decided to sit (Wednesday) night out and hopefully get another day of rest and try to get this knee back where it needs to be.
"As the days go on, the swelling and the soreness are starting to evaporate."
The Celtics could use Sullinger's help after scoring 38 points in the paint against Charlotte. They averaged 49.5 points in that area during the four-game win streak, which followed the franchise's worst start since 1969-70.
Boston will try to start another run by earning its 14th win in 16 games against Portland. The Celtics, though, had their six-game series win streak snapped with a 92-86 loss Feb. 24, and Matthews led the way for the Blazers with 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
Boston handled Portland in the lone home matchup in 2012-13, leading by as many as 27 points in the third quarter of a 96-78 win Nov. 30. Jeff Green had 19 points off the bench and enters averaging a career-high 17.1 while starting all nine games.
Green is averaging 19.7 points on 52.6 percent shooting in his last three games, and he's made 7 of 15 attempts from 3-point range.
LaMarcus Aldridge, who leads Portland with 21.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, and Robin Lopez each have double-doubles in three straight contests. Aldridge has just two double-doubles in 12 career games against Boston while Lopez has none in eight matchups.
Lopez, averaging 8.8 points and 7.3 boards, had 15 double-doubles in 324 career games prior to this season.