Portland Trailblazers +8 (14-6) at Boston Celtics -8 (18-2) O/U 185 8 PM ET Friday December 5, 2008 on ESPN
By Jason Green at Predictem.com
Tonight the surprising Portland Blazers travel to Boston to play the Celtics, who have the best record in the NBA. The Blazers had a lot of expectations coming into this season with all their young stars, but they are exceeding expectations with a 14-6 record and are in 1st place in the Northwest Division. The Celtics are picking up right where they left off last year and are, once again, the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. The Blazers can prove they are a team to deal with in the Western Conference if they can beat the Celtics tonight in Beantown.
Both teams come into this game on fire, as the Celtics have won 10 in a row and the Blazers have won 6 in a row.
The Celtics are 11-1 at home and the Blazers are 7-6 on the road.
Basketball bookies have the Celtics as 8-point favorites with a total around 185. The Celtics are posted at -330 as home favorites and the Blazers are posted at +250 as away dogs.
The Celtics come into this game after laying a beat down on the Indiana Pacers 114-96 on Wednesday night. The high scorer for the Celtics in that game was Ray Allen going for 31 points on 11/18 shooting and also went 6/9 from beyond the 3-point line. For the game the Celtics shot 40-80 from the field for a FG% of 50%. On defense the Celtics held the Pacers to 40/91 shooting for a FG% of 44%.
The Blazers come into this game after beating the Washington Wizards 98-92 on Wednesday night. The high scorer for the Blazers in that game was Brandon Roy going for 22 points on 9/19 shooting. For the game the Blazers shot 37/77 from the floor for a FG% of 48.1%. On defense the Blazers allowed the Wizards to shoot 37/73 from the floor for a FG% of 50.7%.
The Celtics rank 11th in the league in scoring (99.5 ppg) and the Blazers rank 15th (98.7 ppg). Both teams are pretty even in FG% and FT%, but the Blazers are shooting lights out from downtown having a 3-point FG% of 41%. On defense the Celtics rank 1st in points allowed (90.3 ppg) and the Blazers rank 7th (93.2 ppg). Both teams are good on the glass, as the Blazers have a rebounding differential of +5.6 rpg and the Celtics are at +3.6 rpg.
Both teams are 11-9 ATS this season and in terms of Over/under games the Blazers are 9-14 and the Celtics are 13-13.
On the injury front SG Martell Webster is out for the Blazers and SG Tony Allen is day-to-day for the Celtics.
This game features 2 of the hottest teams in the NBA.
The Blazers will have a hard time stopping the Big 3 of the Celtics, but they may have a harder time stopping PG Rojan Rondo, who is on fire as of late and in the Celtics last game he recorded the first triple double of his career. If Rondo has another big game the Celtics will be sitting pretty.
The Blazers have to play good perimeter D, not only on Rondo, but also on Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Allen is raining down 3’s lately, so the Blazers will have to concentrate on him and make sure he does not kill them from downtown.
The Celtics are the best defensive team in the league and they will be tested tonight, as the Blazers are loaded with young studs like Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, and LaMarcus Aldridge. The key player may be Oden, as if he can score down low the Celtics will have to drop down and that will open up the floor for the rest of the Blazers. Also Oden has to be a big inside presence when Pierce and Rondo break down the Blazers perimeter D.
Even though Oden has missed time this season he has 6 double-doubles in his last 12 games. Celtics C Kendrick Perkins will have to put a body on Oden and not give him easy buckets close to the hoop.
They key match up in this game may be in the PF’s of Kevin Garnett vs. Aldridge. Garnett is legit on D and Aldridge will have to score some points for the Blazers to win this game.
Jason’s Pick: I’m on the Blazers +8 and am putting lunch money on the moneyline as “it COULD happen”.