Watch It! - Celtics at Trail Blazers
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers meet at 10:30 p.m. tonight at the Moda Center.
Boston’s frontline must be as confident as ever after last night’s performance against Golden State. The Celtics had not one, not two, but three of their frontline players log double-doubles against the league’s hottest team.
Jeff Green led the way statistically by notching a game-high 24 points go along with his second consecutive contest with 11 boards. Jared Sullinger also broke the 20-point barrier by dropping in 21 points and 11 rebounds off of the bench. The man who stood out the most, however, was Kris Humphries, whose 16 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks powered the Celtics into contention in the fourth quarter.
Friday’s performance by that trio should not go overlooked. Golden State’s frontline is very talented and the Warriors rank third in the NBA in rebounds per game. One would assume that Portland, which ranks second in rebounds, has an advantage tonight, but that might not be a safe bet considering last night’s performance by the Celtics’ big men.
Falling Back Down To Earth
The Trail Blazers at one time had a ridiculous 22-4 record this season.
Now they’re 27-9, and you know what that means: they’ve played .500 basketball over their last 10 games.
Portland has been wildly inconsistent over its last 10 games. For instance, it scored 134 points in a win against Charlotte on Jan. 2. Two nights later, it scored 99 in a loss to the struggling 76ers. The Trail Blazers have scored at least 100 points in eight of their last 10 games, but they’ve given up at least 100 points in eight of their last 10 as well.
This Portland team is very talented, and it’s very good. It proved as much over the first third of the season. It has, however, blazed its way back down to Earth over the past three weeks.
Empty the Tank
Every coach in the NBA hopes that his team empties the tank on nightly basis. We all know that such is not the case. That being said, Brad Stevens shouldn’t have to do much to motivate his team to leave it all on the court tonight in Portland.
Boston will close out an incredibly difficult five-game road trip tonight. It came up just short of a victory in its last two contests and is as hungry as ever for a win. This is their final opportunity to salvage a victory on the trip. Combine that with the fact that they don’t play again until Monday, and you have a situation in which the C’s should undoubtedly empty the tank.
It’s no secret that the Celtics are missing something that every NBA team wants: size.
Boston has just two players who are listed as taller than 6-foot-9. One of those players, the 6-foot-11 Vitor Faverani, has played sparingly this season.
Facts like those make LaMarcus Aldridge’s mouth water. Aldridge, who is a gangly 6-foot-11 himself, feasts on smaller players. He posts them up. He shoots over them. He scores with ease.
Boston witnessed this first-hand on Nov. 15, when Aldridge scored a game-high 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting against the Celtics. Aldridge displayed an advantage that night that the Celtics could not answer.
Damian Lillard is really good. He’s a borderline All-Star in just his second season. Something about the green and white jerseys of the Celtics, however, turns him into a run-of-the-mill player.
Think we’re kidding about that? We’re not.
Lillard hasn’t even been average in three career games against Boston. He heads into tonight’s game with lowly averages of 12.3 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game, 4.3 assists per game and 3.7 turnovers per game against the C’s. On top of those numbers, he has shot the ball terribly against Boston, with percentages of 33.3 percent from the field and 18.8 percent from long range.
Remember, Lillard is really good… but he never has been such against Boston.