Preview by Jack Simone, CLNS Media
The Boston Celtics (34-30, 31-33 ATS) are coming off their most electric win of the season. They overcame a 32-point deficit to beat the Spurs 143-140 on Friday night. They will now take on Damian Lillard and the Portland Trailblazers (35-28, 32-31 ATS) in hopes of extending their winning streak to three.
According to the online sports book Betonline.ag, the Trail Blazers are 1.5 point favorites.
- Point Spread: Trail Blazers -1.5
- Over-Under: 234.5 points
- Money line: Blazers -117, Celtics -103
Zach Collins is the only player listed on Portland’s injury report. He has missed all season with an ankle injury.
Kemba Walker is out for the fourth straight game as he continues to deal with a left oblique strain, while Jaylen Brown was added yesterday as questionable with a right ankle sprain.
Predicted Starting Lineups
G: Marcus Smart
G: Evan Fournier
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Robert Williams III
G: Damian Lillard
G: CJ McCollum
SF: Norman Powell
PF: Robert Covington
C: Jusuf Nurkic
Lillard is having a spectacular season, putting up 28.3 points to go along with 4.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. CJ McCollum is his second in command, averaging 22.9 PPG.
The dynamic duo is backed up in the scoring column by Norman Powell (16.9) and veteran Carmelo Anthony (13.6). Portland’s bigs are also playing well. Former Celtic Enes Kanter is putting up 11.7 points and 11.4 rebounds per night, while Jusuf Nurkic is averaging 10.9 PPG and 8.5 RPG.
The Trailblazers are currently on a three-game winning streak, but had lost ten of their prior 13 games. Portland is 35-28 this year, good for seventh in the Western Conference.
Jayson Tatum is fresh off of a historic performance vs San Antonio. He put up 60 points, tying Larry Bird’s franchise record. Tatum leads the league in scoring over the last five games, putting up 38.0 points a night on roughly 51-47-82 shooting splits.
Despite his poor performance last game, Jaylen Brown played solidly of late, averaging 28.5 points a night in the last five games. Rookies Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith have combined for over 20 PPG over that same stretch.
The C’s have now won two in a row after their miraculous comeback vs San Antonio. They are 34-30 on the season and are tied with the Heat for sixth in the Eastern Conference. Boston has won six of their last ten games despite suffering tough losses to Charlotte and Oklahoma City.
Unlike the Spurs, the Trailblazers take a ton of threes. They rank second in the NBA in that category at 41.4 per game. Boston took on the Blazers not too long ago and they shot 39.5% from deep. Regardless of the fact that the C’s scraped out a win, perimeter defense has to be a top priority. Lillard will pull-up from anywhere, so defenders beware. Marcus Smart held Lillard to 1-of-5 shooting in Boston’s win.
Boston has done an amazing job of getting to the paint during their last two games. The Blazers are one of the worst defensive teams in the league, so running an effective offense would help the C’s secure a win. Tatum and Brown have to remain aggressive while also getting everyone else involved.
The Trailblazers rank bottom-10 in the league in rebounding. Tristan Thompson and Nesmith have attacked the offensive glass lately. If they can keep up that same energy, the Celtics should generate a ton of second-chance opportunities and win.
Celtics 128, Blazers 121
TIP OFF: 7:30 p.m. @ TD Garden
RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub
TV: NBC Sports Boston