Team Records: Boston (29-26) at Portland (25-30)
Game Info: 6 p.m., TV on KGW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: Portland -2
Refs: Monty McCutchen, Tony Brown, Eric Dalen
The Skinny: After the, um, game that the Blazers did not win in LA on Friday, they look to end their long losing streak against the suddenly struggling Celtics. Boston had been on a surprising roll after Rondo went down with a season-ending injury but has lost three of its last five. The Celtics are the only team to hold a winning record against the Blazers in Portland.
Last Time They Met: Boston handled the Blazers easily, winning by 18 in a game that was nowhere near that close. Boston has won six in a row against Portland and thirteen of the last fourteen.
Projected Celtics Lineup:
PF: Brandon Bass (LSU, 8th season) – 7.5 PPG, 5 RPG, 1 APG
SF: Paul Pierce (Kansas, 15th season) – 18.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.4 APG
C: Kevin Garnett (Farragut Academy (HS), 17th season) – 15. PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.3 APG
SG: Courtney Lee (Western Kentucky, 5th season) – 7.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.6 APG
PG: Avery Bradley (Texas, 3rd Season) – 9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.5 APG
Player to Watch: Kevin Garnett (pictured at right) – In many ways Garnett is a throwback sort of guy. In an era where players are seemingly all friends with one another off the court and pregame fist bumps and handshakes are common before virtually every tip, Garnett has a very simple calculus. Namely, if you are on his team, you are a friend but the moment you are not, you are the enemy and you are to be destroyed. Witness how quickly Garnett turned on Ray Allen when he bolted to Miami after last season. It is that relentless energy, plus a great deal of skill that has led Garnett to an amazing career. In the words of Garnett himself after he won his only title, he proved “Anything is possible” if you work hard enough.
Did You Know?: Kevin Garnett has 25,081 career points, 16th most in NBA history and can be expected to pass Jerry West and Reggie Miller soon, both of whom have a less than 200 point lead on Garnett.
Song of the Day: “More Than a Feeling” by Boston-One of Beantown’s best known groups presents one of its best known songs. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliott Williams (Achilles)
Boston: Out – PG Rajon Rondo (Knee), PF Jared Sullinger (Back)
Re-Evaluating Boston: End of an Era
Despite the long winning streak the Celtics went on after Rondo got hurt, Rondo’s injury, as much as anything, signaled that an era of Celtics basketball was nearing its end and change was in the air. Trade talks immediately started to swarm around Garnett and Pierce and the talk around Boston’s sports media was that the team realized it was time to blow it up and rebuild. That they did not manage to trade either does not change this fact and although this era of Boston basketball doesn’t come close to ranking among the top in that franchise’s storied history, it is still fitting to mark its passing. The original big 3 era is done and knowing the Celtics a new successful one will soon begin.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They play like they did on Friday. There is no way Portland gets burned as badly by the refs at home as they did in LA. If they play with the effort and execution they did on Friday, they will win.
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.