Team Records: Boston (13-24) at Portland (27-9)
Game Info: 7 p.m., TV on KGW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -13
Refs: Ron Garretson, Mark Ayotte, Sean Wright
The Skinny: After stopping their slide at two with a win over Orlando Wednesday night, the Blazers return to the court to face the predictably struggling Celtics. Boston, not expected to do anything this year after completely blowing it up, has hit the brakes after a reasonably hot start. The Celtics have lost seven in a row and are winless in eight tries on the road against western conference opponents this season.
Last Time They Met: Portland broke open a close game with a strong third quarter as won in Boston for the first time since 2004. Aldridge led the way for Portland with 27 points and 12 rebounds while Jared Sullinger had 26 points and 8 rebounds for Boston in a losing effort.
Projected Celtics Lineup:
PF: Brandon Bass (LSU, 9th season) – 11.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.3 APG
SF: Jeff Green (Georgetown, 6th season) – 15.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.5 APG
F: Kris Humphries (Minnesota, 10th Season) – 6.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.1 APG
SG: Jordan Crawford (Xavier, 4th season) – 13.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 5.7 APG
PG: Avery Bradley (Texas, 4th Season) – 14.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.3 APG
Player to Watch: Avery Bradley (Pictured at right) – When Rondo went down with an ACL injury last season, in stepped Avery Bradley Bradley, a 2010 pick out of Texas, had, shall we say, a rough start, posting an anemic PER of 2.23. Yet after that shaky start Bradley has emerged as a serviceable NBA point guard. Bradley’s main weapon is his shooting and he is a decent shooter for a guard, shooting a solid 45% this season. Most of Bradley’s points come on layups, while his jumper is less than stellar, although he does hit a 3 from time to time. Beyond his shooting, however, Bradley doesn’t exactly do a whole lot else. He doesn’t pass the ball much or that well, doesn’t force steals, and is an okayish rebounder. Still, if you wanted a backup PG, he might be a decent enough fit, but throwing him to the proverbial wolves by making him start is too much to ask for.
Did You Know?: The Celtics are the only current NBA franchise to have a winning record against the Blazers in Portland, holding a 27-24 edge.
Song of the Day: “Shot Heard Round the World” by Schoolhouse Rock-A song by Schoolhouse Rock about Revere’s ride at the start of the Revolutionary War, which after all began right near Boston. Enjoy:
Boston: Out – PG Rajon Rondo (ACL)
Re-Evaluating Boston: Rebuilding Quickly
One can question whether Boston waited too long to pull the trigger and rebuild after the Big Three (with Rondo replacing Ray Allen) were clearly no longer capable of winning a title. Yet, pull the trigger he did and Boston GM Danny Ainge certainly got plenty for his troubles. In the deal that shipped Garnett and Pierce to Brooklyn Boston got three first round picks as well as a lot of cap flexibility. Boston will be well under the cap next season and poised to determine whether they want to rebuild around Rondo (presuming he comes back at near the same level he was before he got hurt) or try something else. The point is Boston has flexibility and that’s what you want if you’re a NBA team looking to rebuild quickly.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: Score 100 points. Boston is a weak offensive team. If Portland can hit 100, they should win fairly easily.
Boston wins if: They limit Portland’s 3 point makes. Boston can’t afford to let Portland hit from deep if they want to win since there is virtually no way they can match that production. If they can limit Portland’s 3 point makes, however, they could be able to win in Portland Saturday.