Tip: 7:30 PM Court: TD Garden Watch it: CSN Hear it: WEEI
Referees: Eddie F. Rush, Josh Tiven, Gary Zielinski
The Celtics swept the season series last year, marking the fifth time in six years the C's have done so. Boston has won 11 of the last 12 games in this series.
Get it to: Paul Pierce
In 25 career games against Gerald Wallace, Pierce is averaging 22.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. I like Gerald Wallace as a player, but he's slipping a little this year. Meanwhile, aside from the dud in Philly, Pierce is really picking it up lately.
Gotta stop: Jamal Crawford
I don't know what it is about the Green and White that make Jamal Crawford's eyes light up, but man does he love playing against the Celtics. Just look at some of the performances he's had against Boston. The C's cannot afford J-Crossover going off… especially considering his tenure in Portland this year has been so disappointing that he's on the trading block.
The Wild Card: Celtics Bench
No Pietrus or Wilcox would hurt. That puts a TON of pressure on guys who have not responded well to it. Can Keyon Dooling FINALLY get it together? Will E'Twaun Moore see time and provide an unexpected spark?
How we see it goin' down
This will not be pretty.
Portland has traveled across country and, even though they have a day off, they're still going to be off in their first east coast game. They've been playing very poorly lately, and the Celtics defense will not help them break out of that.
The Celtics, meanwhile, will be short handed and will have no choice but to rely on guys like Dooling, Moore and Stiemsma if Pietrus and Wilcox are out.
So if both teams are playing poorly in an ugly game, I'll give the advantage to the home team. I think Boston's starters will be "on" after the Philly fiasco and knowing that they don't want to get on a plane and fly to LA with the sour tase of defeat in their mouths. That flight's going to suck no matter what… might as well have some fun on it after a win. The bench will do its part to make this a close game, but the C's will pull away late.
C's will take this one, 91-82