Tip: 7:30 PM Court: TD Garden Watch it: CSN Hear it: WEEI
Referees: Bennett Salvatore, Pat Fraher and Leroy Richardson
Get your tickets here: Boston Celtics Tickets
The Celtics dominated Portland 104-86 in their sole meeting last season. Overall, Boston has won 5 in a row against the Blazers, including eight straight in Boston.
Get it to: Paul Pierce
Who generally steps up when the Celtics are facing tough times? It’s almost always the Truth. With Rajon Rondo out (suspension), I’m expecting Pierce to assert himself in all phases of the game. Portland is not a good defensive team and Nicholas Batum, while athletic and long, can be beat.
Gotta stop: Damian Lilliard
The rookie point guard is averaging 19 ppg. He’s a very good offensive player with deep range (40% from 3). The Blazers rank 6th in the league in transition offense. Normally I wouldn’t be overly concerned with a rookie point guard facing the Celtics defense, but 1) the Celtics defense hasn’t been very Celtic-like this season and 2) Rondo won’t be in the building. Leandro Barbosa needs to stick with this kid.
The Wild Card: Battle of the bench
You thought Boston’s bench was weak? Portland’s reserves average a league low 12.3 ppg. Old friend Sasha Pavlovic, Jared Jeffries, Myers Leonard, Victor Claver and Ronnie Price make up the Blazers second unit. With Barbosa thrust into a starting role, and Jeff Green (knee) and Chris Wilcox (illness) likely out, the Celtics second unit might not be much better. Which unit will step up?
How we see it goin’ down
This has the makings of a circle-the-wagons game. The Celtics have lost 3 out of 5. They got beaten up by the Nets and called soft by their coach. They’re missing their all-star point guard. The bench is depleted.
Do you really think this team is going to roll over and die tonight? I don’t.