Watch It! - Trail Blazers at Celtics
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight TD Garden.
Portland’s Powerful Offense
The Trail Blazers possess one of the most potent offenses in the NBA. They rank 10th in the league in scoring with an average of 102.4 points per game and are hitting 42.2 percent of their 3-pointers this season, which ranks fourth in the NBA.
Portland’s starting group has played extremely well this season. LaMarcus Aldridge leads the team in scoring with 21.3 PPG, but Damian Lillard is right behind him with an average of 19.9 PPG. Those two, along with Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and Robin Lopez, account for more than 75 percent of the team’s scoring.
The Celtics are going to have a tough time slowing this balanced Portland team down tonight. The Trail Blazers can light opponents up with jumpers or score efficiently through Aldridge on the block.
The Return of Sullinger
Sullinger isn’t a starter for Boston and he ranks only fifth on the team in scoring. Still, he remains as one of the most important pieces of this Celtics squad.
Sullinger leads the team in PER, with a rating of 22.5. He’s also third on the team in rebounding, with an average of 5.1 boards a night, despite playing less than 20 minutes per game. The big man also serves as Boston’s premier low-post scorer.
The Celtics missed all of that Wednesday night when Sullinger sat out with a bruised right knee. He and Brad Stevens said on Thursday that Sullinger is expected to play tonight. That will certainly provide a boost as the Celtics look to end Portland’s four-game winning streak.
Defending the Block
Boston is coming off a game in which it allowed Al Jefferson to be a game-changer. Jefferson led the Bobcats to a victory Wednesday night at TD Garden by notching game highs of 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, they’ll be facing one of the league’s best big men in Aldridge tonight. Aldridge is in the midst of his fourth-consecutive season with an average of at least 21.0 PPG. Aldridge, who stands in at 6-foot-11, is extremely talented. He can operate in the low post and can stretch the defense with mid-range jumpers.
Either Brandon Bass, Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger or Vitor Faverani are likely to be tasked with defending Aldridge throughout tonight’s game. They’re going to have their hands full, but Boston needs them to make life difficult on Aldridge down low.
Keep on Shooting
Wednesday night’s offensive performance by the Celtics was a rough one. They shot just 37.7 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from 3-point range, and 72.0 percent from the free-throw line. Those aren’t the numbers Boston would like to display, nor are they the numbers it expects out of itself.
The good news is that Wednesday’s performance wasn’t a product of poor offensive execution. The Celtics got open shots, they just didn’t make them. All they need to do is continue to execute on offense and shoot those same shots with confidence. This team has too many good shooters for those shots not to fall in eventually.
Need More from Green
Jeff Green led the Celtics in scoring with 19 points Wednesday night against Charlotte. His 7-of-13 shooting performance was great, but the rest of his game was not.
Green nearly finished the contest without tallying any numbers in the other major statistical categories. He grabbed just one rebound while finishing with zero assists, zero steals and zero blocks.
The Celtics need Green to bring more to the table than just scoring. He needs to be an all-around player in order for Boston to win games.