Trail Blazers vs Celtics Friday, 11/30/12 AT 04:30PM

Trail Blazers Take Aim At Celtics In Boston

  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    After Coach Stotts said reality has set in for the Trail Blazers (6-9) after two consecutive losses to teams with poor records, the Trail Blazers will look to turn things around in a building that has given them trouble in the recent past. They will take on the Boston Celtics (8-7) at the TD Garden at 4:30 on Friday night. That game will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM. The Celtics will be without their point guard Rajon Rondo, who is serving the first game of a two game suspension for an altercation in their previous game against Brooklyn. Friday is also the first game of a back-to-back situation as the Trail Blazers head to Cleveland on Saturday to face the Cavaliers.

    •    The Rondo vs. Damian Lillard match-up many were looking forward to will not happen this time around. Lillard turned in a solid performance of 20 points in the loss to Washington after having back-to-back subpar outings against Detroit and Brooklyn. The Celtics situation at point guard is one by committee after Rondo. Jason Terry, Leandro Barbosa, Paul Pierce and Courtney Lee will all likely share the ball handling duties in Rondo's stead. Without Rondo, they are nearly five points worse when he is off the court according to Terry (+5.7) and Garnett (14.5) are the only players that are in the rotation that give the Celtics more of an advantage when they are on the court. However, Rondo is responsible for initiating the Celtics offense. Mainly behind Rondo, the Celtics are third in the league in total assists and have the sixth best effective field goal percentage (a statistic that takes into account the extra worth of three-pointers) in the league.  Portland's defense had great stretches against Washington and were good until their letdown in Detroit. Boston has many other good offensive players but none with the playmaking skill of Rondo. Pierce, the team's leading scorer (19.7 points per game), may have to sacrifice some of his shot attempts to help get the rest of the team going offensively while Rondo serves his suspension.
    •    LaMarcus Aldridge was dominant inside 15 feet for the second straight game. Against the Wizards,  Aldridge was six of seven from inside 15 feet. Compared to the rest of the league when it comes to giving up attempts at the rim, the Celtics are below the league average. Aldridge is tied for 5th in the league in post up possessions per game in the with Zach Randolph according to Synergy Sports Technology. Among the top-ten in possessions per game on post-ups, Aldridge ranks second in points per possession (David West is first). Kevin Garnett, even in his 18th season, is one of the best interior defenders in the league and will likely be the one match-ed up on Aldridge. However, the rest of the Celtics interior defenders aren't ones to write home about. The Celtics defense is only ranked 23rd in the league.
    •    JJ Hickson must continue his beastly performances. It's weird to think about but I highly doubt anybody coming into the season would predict JJ Hickson being the most consistent Trail Blazer, but he has been. Hickson has notched double-digit rebounds in nearly every single game and is currently enjoying a career-high in rebound percentage and rebounds per game. He is also shooting 53%, leading the Trail Blazers, which is four percentage points better than his career average. The Trail Blazers will need Hickson to continue being a beast on the boards as his energy and relentlessness on the boards has helped the Trail Blazers weather the storms of poor shooting to still stay close in games. Hickson had a season-high 19 rebounds in the Trail Blazers loss against the Wizards.
    •    How do the Trail Blazers survive poor shooting nights from their main guys? Portland's starting five has proven to be one of the best in the NBA this season and the highest scoring one by over seven points per game. They are also the third most efficient starting five in the league. However, when any of their players suffer a poor shooting night, unless the other players with the scoring burden go super nova, they have trouble surviving. One of the realities the Trail Blazers are facing is their lack of depth. Although the Trail Blazers bench players aren't called to score and Terry Stotts doesn't envision them every bringing it, if they are to be successful in a long season, production from the bench has to be there. Will Barton got in the rotation for the second consecutive game and although the results he produced weren't as great against the Wizards as they were against the Pistons, he was still in control and did not really make any of the head scratching plays he had been making earlier in the season. Along with Barton, Portland needs Meyers Leonard to continue building on the offensive success he has had so far on this road trip. Leonard and Barton making inroads at being consistent reserve contributors could be this road trip's saving grace.

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This photo: Aldridge Takes Garnett To The Basket / put this photo on your page

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