Portland Trailblazers vs. Boston Celtics Preview and Pick

Portland Trailblazers (23-14) +8 1/2, 181 at Boston Celtics (30-6), 7:30 pm Wednesday
by Zman of Predictem.com

The struggling Boston Celtics, who in the last week have lost as many games as they did during the first two-plus months of this season, try to get back on track when they host the streaking Portland Trailblazers Wednesday night in Beantown.

NBA betting boards list Boston as an 8 1/2-point home favorite for Wednesday’s game, with a total of 181. Also, the Celtics are listed at around -450 on various Vegas moneylines, with the Blazers getting +350 as road underdogs.

Portland started this season 5-12, but after pounding the Nets in New Jersey Monday 99-73, the Blazers have won 18 of their last 20 games to pull into first place in the Northwest Division, a game ahead of the second-place Denver Nuggets.

Boston, meanwhile, was a sparkling 30-3 a week and a half ago, but for the first time this season has encountered some serious resistance. The Celtics lost at home to Washington Monday 88-83, their second straight home defeat and third loss in their last four games. And they’ve averaged just 83 points over those last four games, Still, Boston leads the Atlantic division by 11 games over the second-place Toronto Raptors, and they’re still 2 games up on the Detroit Pistons in the race for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Portland, 1-1 so far on a current seven-game road trip, has proved valuable to bettors this season, going 24-13 against the spread. Also, while the Blazers are just 6-11 straight up on the road, they’re 9-8 vs. the numbers away from home.

Boston has also been profitable this season, going 22-13 ATS overall, 16-3 SU and 11-8 vs. the numbers at home.

The Celtics have won the last four meetings with Portland, sweeping the season series the last two seasons. And that was before Boston picked up Kevin Garnett. But it looks safe to say that the Blazers aren’t the same team that won 32, 21 and 27 games the last three seasons.

Statistically speaking, Portland ranks 13th in point differential at +1.8 per game while shooting 46% from the field as a team, 39% from 3-point land and 77% from the free-throw line. Also, the Blazers rank 5th in the league in FG defense at 44%, but just 22nd in rebounding at -1.2 per game.

On the other side of this match-up, the Celtics rank 1st in the league in point differential at +11.2 per game and are shooting 47% from the floor, 37% from long range and 77% from the line. Also, Boston ranks 1st in the league in FG defense at 41% and 2nd in the league in rebounding at +2.9 per game.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com rank the Celtics 1st at 100.4, Portland 15th at 91.4. Sagarin’s current home-court advantage figure is 2.7.

The o/u is 15-22 in Blazers games this season, which are averaging 193 total points, while the totals are 14-21 in Boston games, which are averaging 185 points. And the Celtics’ last five games have all stayed under their totals.

Zman’s Pick: Portland +8