Team Records: Portland (19-20) at Boston (20-18)
Game Info: 4:30 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 750 the Game
Vegas Line: Boston -3.5
Refs: Eddie F. Rush, Josh Tiven, Gary Zielinski
The Skinny: After a loss to a Minnesota team that was simply outhustled the Blazers yet again, Portland looks to beat a Boston team coming off an even worse loss. The Celtics were last seen losing by 32 to Philly on Wednesday and honestly the game wasn’t that close. Boston is in the midst of a decline and this is likely the last time Portland will play Boston’s big three.
Last Season: For the second straight year, the Celtics swept the Blazers. The Blazers haven’t beaten Boston since the infamous six on the court game back in the 2008-09 season.
Projected Celtics Lineup:
PF: Brandon Bass (LSU, 7th season) – 11.9 PPG, 6 RPG, 1 APG
SF: Paul Pierce (Kansas, 14th season) – 18 PPG, 5 RPG, 5.4 APG
C: Kevin Garnett (Farragut Academy (HS), 17th season) – 15.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.6 APG
SG: Ray Allen (Connecticut, 16th season) – 14.8 PPG, 3 RPG, 2.7 APG
PG: Rajon Rondo (Kentucky, 6th Season) – 14.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 10.2 APG
Player to Watch: Rajon Rondo (pictured at right) – On a team full of declining veterans, it is Rondo who most often is called upon to provide the spark. With a team largely full of erratic jump shooters, but ones that are capable of getting into a rhythm if they are in the right spot, Rondo is masterful passer on the offensive court. He can rebound as well and gets to the hoop with a frequency that belies his small stature. On defense, he gambles for steals fairly often so its often a risk reward proposition with him, albeit more reward than risk in his case. He is not a great outside shooter and his free throw shooting is erratic at best but these are but a few flaws in what is one of the best point guards in the league.
Did You Know?: Rajon Rondo recorded an 18 point, 17 rebound, 20 assist triple double Sunday vs. the Knicks, becoming only the fourth player ever to exceed the 15-15-15 mark. The other three to do so are Wilt Chamberlain, Jason Kidd (who has done it twice) and Magic Johnson.
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 – C Greg Oden (knee), SG Elliot Williams (Shoulder).
Boston: Questionable – C Jermaine O’Neal (Wrist),
Just to see Boston play this year becomes apparent that they are not the same team that was about one good quarter away from their second title in three years two seasons ago. They are near the bottom of the league in scoring (26th) and rank dead last in rebounding. They are the same slow-paced team they always were but their offensive efficiency has plummeted to 25th. They take their cue from Rondo. When Rondo is going well, they usually win but when he isn’t they are capable of losing to any team simply because they can’t muster enough offense. What has saved them from falling completely off the deep end is their defense, which is still among the league’s best. They might not score but this Boston team makes sure its hard for you to do the same.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They score 100 points. Boston is not a great offensive team. If Portland can hit the century mark, they should be able to win this.
Boston wins if: They outscore Portland in the paint. Boston is primarily a perimeter jump shooting team. If they beat Portland in the paint, it will be a sign they are dominating the game.