Boston Celtics vs. Portland Trailblazers Preview and Pick

Boston Celtics -3.5 (28-4) at Portland Trailblazers +3.5 (19-10) O/U 187.5 10 PM ET Tuesday December 30, 2008
By Jason Green at


Tonight the Boston Celtics travel to Portland to play the upstart Blazers. This West coast road trip has not been good to the defending champs, as even though they crushed Sacramento, who doesn’t, in their last game they had lost the previous 2. The Celtics are running away with the Atlantic Division, as they have a 12.5 game lead over the New Jersey Nets, while the Blazers game back of the Nuggets in the Northwest Division. The Celtics are 8-2 in their last 10 games and the Blazers are only 5-5. The Blazers have proved they are legit and not just a young and talented team, as they are a real threat in the Western Conference this year.

This season the Blazers are 11-3 at home and the Celtics are 11-3 away from Beantown.

Hoops bookies have the Celtics as 3.5 point favorites with a total around 187.5. The Celtics are posted at -180 as away favorites and the Blazers are posted at +160 as home dogs.

The Celtics come into this game after absolutely crushing the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night 108-63. The high scorer for the Celtics in that game was KG going for 21 points on 10/11 shooting and also grabbing 11 boards. For the game the Celtics shot 41/79 for a FG% of 51.9%. On defense the Celtics clamped down and held the Kings to, are you kidding me, 19/68 from the floor for a horrendous FG% of 27.9%, really and the Kings lost?

The Blazers come into this game after beating the Toronto Raptors 102-89 on Saturday night. The high scorer for the Blazers in that game was Brandon Roy going for 32 points on 14/19 shooting. For the game the Blazers shot 40-79 from the floor for a FG% of 50.6%. On defense the Blazers allowed the Raptors to shoot 35/78 from the floor for a FG% of 44.9%.

This season the Celtics rank 8th in scoring (101.5 ppg) and the Blazers rank 14th (99.2 ppg). The Celtics are shooting lights out, as they have the 2nd highest team FG% at 48.56%. The reason the Celtics have the best record in the NBA is their defense, as they rank 2nd in points allowed (90.8 ppg), while the Blazers rank a respectable 10th (95.3 ppg). The Celtics are allowing the lowest opponents FG% in the league at 41.83%. The Blazers actually have a better rebounding team, as they have a rebounding differential of +4.5 rpg and the Celtics are at +3.3 rpg.

This season the Celtics are 18-14 ATS and the Blazers are 15-16. In terms of Over/Under the Celtics are at 19-20-1 this season and the Blazers are 14-20.

On the injury front C Kendrick Perkins is day-to-day for the Celtics and C Greg Oden and SG Brandon Roy are day-to-day for the Blazers.

The key to this game will be the health of the Blazers, as 2 key players, Roy and Oden, are banged up.

The key match up in this game may be at the PF position between Kevin Garnett (16.6 ppg 8.8 rpg) and LeMarcus Aldridge (17 ppg 6.7 rpg). If KG plays good D on Aldridge it will give the Celtics a huge advantage, as, besides Roy, the Blazers do not have a lot of scoring options.

The Blazers will have to play good perimeter defense, as the Celtics can really shoot the long ball. Steve Blake has to contain Rajon Rondo and not let him penetrate and score and dish out to Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Allen has lit up the Blazers since coming to Boston last year, as he has averaged 24.3 points in 3 match-ups with Portland.

The Blazers will have to shoot the rock well and play good D to have any chance in this game. The Celtics match up well with the Blazers, as well as with every other team, and the Blazers must be physical with them and not give them easy buckets inside.

The Blazers can really send a message to the league if they can beat the Celtics tonight in the Rose Garden.

Jason’s Pick: As much as I like this Blazer team, the Celtics “wiley veterans” will get motivated bigtime for this game to show the “youngin’s” that their not ready to give up their reign on the league.