Team Records: Portland (9-3) at Boston (4-7)
Game Info: 3 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -5
Refs: Ron Garretson, Mark Ayotte, Justin Van Duyne
The Skinny: After winning their sixth straight game Friday, the Blazers begin a three-game road trip against the Celtics. Portland is sporting a perfect 4-0 record so far against the east this year. Boston comes into Sunday’s matchup having lost three of four, with the only win during that spin over the winless Sixers.
Last Season: The Blazers swept the season series, including Portland’s first win in Boston in nearly a decade.
Projected Celtics Lineup:
PF: Jared Sullinger (Ohio State, 3rd season) – 15.7 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.1 APG
SF: Jeff Green (Georgetown, 7th season) – 18.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.2 APG
C: Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga, 2nd Season) – 12.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.7 APG
SG: Avery Bradley (Texas, 5th season) – 14.2 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.1 APG
PG: Rajon Rondo (Kentucky, 9th Season) – 9.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 11 APG
Player to Watch: Kelly Olynyk (pictured at right) – Olynyk always seemed destined to be a basketball player. His father was a coach for the Canadian junior national team, who famously cut a PG named Steve Nash at one point. Kelly, a native of Toronto was not highly recruited by college basketball powers, and ended up at Gonzaga, where he excelled. His game on offense is refined, and he has the ability to shoot from all over the court, along with some good post moves and good finishing at the rim. He also possesses solid ball handling as well, having trained initially as a guard. On defense, he has work to do, as his slender frame makes him a bit too easy to push around. Still, if he can build some strength, Kelly should be a solid NBA player and is certainly one of the few obvious bright spots for Boston this year.
Did You Know?: Rondo is currently fourth on Boston’s all-time assists list, behind only Cousy, Havilcek and Bird
Song of the Day: “MTA” by the Kingston Trio-A famous song about Boston’s beloved and hated subway system which exemplifies the experience for anyone who has ever had the “pleasure” of riding the “T”:
Portland: Out – PG CJ McCollum (Finger)
Boston: Out – PG Marcus Smart (Ankle), C Vitor Faverani (Knee)
Danny Ainge has done it again, managing to squeeze assets out of a declining roster as he builds perhaps the most storied franchise in NBA history back towards the top . They are still a long way from being any good but they are headed in the right direction. Led by Rondo, Boston can be a very good, and very fast paced, offense at times, However, they are not a good three point shooting, nor are they particularly good from the line either. By contrast, the defense is simply awful, ranking near the bottom of the league in almost every category. When Boston is shooting well, they can stay in games but if they aren’t, their defense is poor enough they will easily get blown out, and they have a few times this year.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: Hold Boston under 100 points. Boston shouldn’t be able to stop Portland from hitting the century mark, so if Portland can hold Boston below 100 they should win.
Boston wins if: They limit Portland’s 3 point makes,. Boston’s biggest weakness is their three point defense, allowing opponents to shoot nearly 41% from deep. If they can hold Portland well below that, they might have a shot.