Trail Blazers/Celtics Pre-Game
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  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 01/22/2010 10:42 AM

    Portland (26-17) heads into Boston (27-13) to take part in game three of the four-game road trip, a place the Trail Blazers have not won at since the 03-04 season. In fact, the Celtics have had recent dominance over the Blazers by winning seven of the past eight meetings. It looks like the win in Philadelphia proved to be a very costly one as Brandon Roy will be out for at least the team's next four games and has left the team to fly to Seattle to get a 2nd opinion on his hamstring. Portland is 2-1 in the three games without Roy, including wins over San Antonio, in their house, and against Orlando, but it took 31 from Jerryd Bayless to get that road win and although Boston has been struggling lately, 4-6 in their past 10 games, the Celtics are a much more talented team that doesn't match up well at all with the Blazers. To make matters worse, it appears that power forward, Kevin Garnett will try to make his return tonight from his nagging knee injury suffered last season. Garnett has not played since December 28th.

    Without Brandon, Portland is going to need to win this game on the defensive end of the floor. Obviously without their superstar, buckets aren't going to come as easy or be so plentiful, so it is imperative to keep Boston's second-chance points below 10, grab the defensive rebounds and get out and push tempo. Roy doesn't really flourish in the open court the way Andre, LaMarcus, Rudy, and Jerryd do, so without Brandon, just run, run, run. Also, a big key to victory tonight is the 100 point mark. Boston is 18-2 when they hit the century mark and without our leading scorer, I doubt the Blazers can win a shootout.

    When you play the Celtics, the one thing you must do in order to come away victorious is take care of the ball. Portland is 5th best in the NBA at taking care of the ball as they commit 12.97 turnovers a night. The C's will cough it up if pressured at around 15 a night, but their calling card is and has always been, with this current core, forcing turnovers. Boston is 4th in the league at forcing the opponent into a turnover at 16 per game. KG has made a name for himself on the defensive end by his countless 1st Team All-Defense honors, but who knows exactly how effective he'll be tonight, Rasheed Wallace is one of the best low-post defenders in the game, and Rajon Rondo leads the NBA in steals per game at 2.51 a night.

    The X-Factor tonight is Bayless. Rasheed still has enough left in the tank to contain Aldridge, especially if LMA is content with just shoot turn around jumpers. Also, Rondo is the best defender at the point guard position, which really could hamper Andre Miller tonight. There will be no taking Rondo into the post, so the only way I see Andre making noise is on the break. Back to Bayless, he is the one player we have who can win this game for the Blazers at the foul line. He needs to pick and choose his spots when to attack, when to shoot the jump shot, and when to dish it off. He should have no problem getting a shot off on Ray Allen, but he'll have to knock down a few jumpers before the lane will open up for driving.

    This game is a tough one to predict. Portland is in the thick of an Eastern road trip, without their franchise player, while Boston has looked absolutely awful lately. I do think this is a great time to be playing Boston, but there is always the thought that this will be the game to break out of their funk, especially if they get the emotional burst of energy from KG returning. Bottom line, if Roy were healthy, I know Portland would finally get a win in Boston, as he is the one player they have no answer for. Look for Rondo and Sheed to assert themselves on the defensive end and force the Blazers into some ugly possessions.
    Game 44 Prediction: Trail Blazers 87 Celtics 95
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