Team Records: Portland (6-2) at Boston (4-5)
Game Info: 4:30 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -2.5
Refs: Marc Davis, Derrick Collins, Haywoode Workman
The Skinny: After a thrilling win over Phoenix Wednesday night the Blazers begin their first long road trip of the season in Boston. The Blazers last won in Boston in 2004 and it is the only place that no member of the current Blazers has ever won while wearing a Portland uniform. The Celtics lost the last time out against Charlotte, snapping a four-game winning streak and aren’t very good but they do play hard.
Last Season: The two teams split the series, both winning at home, including Portland’s first win of any kind over Boston since the infamous “six on the court” game in December, 2008.
Projected Celtics Lineup:
PF: Brandon Bass (LSU, 9th season) – 11.7 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.8 APG
SF: Jeff Green (Georgetown, 6th season) – 11.7 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.8 APG
C: Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga, Rookie) – 8.7 PPG, 6 RPG, 1.9 APG
SG: Jordan Crawford (Xavier, 4th season) – 11.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 4.4 APG
PG: Avery Bradley (Texas, 4th Season) – 12.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.7 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?: Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is only the second coach in NBA history to lose his first four games and then win the following four. The first, Portland’s Rick Adelman.
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 (Foot), C Meyers Leonard (Illness)
Boston: Out – PG Rajon Rondo (ACL), Questionable-PF Jared Sullinger (Knee)
Well Boston finally did it after last season, admitting that the big 3 era was dead and blowing it up to start anew, presumably behind Rajon Rondo when he gets healthy following a serious ACL injury last season. On offense, Boston is primarily an inside shooting team, shooting only 31% from deep and making only 5 3s per game. They don’t pass the ball very well, with one of the lowest assist rates in the league. As a result, they can struggle mightily at times, failing to hit 90 points in four of their five losses this year. On defense they are very solid, forcing you to take bad shots, although doing a very poor job rebounding, with the worst defensive rebounding rate in the league. Boston is well-coached for what they are, but that isn’t saying a lot. They are a bad team looking to tank for a good pick in next year’s draft.
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 win the rebounding battle. Boston is a bad rebounding team but if they win the rebounding battle Friday it will probably be a sign they are playing well enough to win their fifth in their last six games.