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

    Posted 02/19/2010 2:45 PM

    Tonight marks the all anticipated Trail Blazer debut of Marcus Camby as Portland (32-34) takes on the 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics (34-18). Fortunately for the Blazers, Boston is on the second half of a back to back, after defeating the Lakers late last night in Los Angeles, 87-86, and not arriving into Portland until the wee hours of the morning. If that wasn't enough of a break, Boston will be without newly acquired Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry as well as Tony Allen, who suffered an ankle injury last night, which will force him to be inactive as well. The C's took Round 1 of this two part season series, 98-95 in OT, but it was against a nine-man Blazer roster, without Roy and Batum. If Portland could have only dodged one more Ray Allen 3 in the closing seconds, the Trail Blazers could have walked out of TD Banknorth Garden victorious.

    Speaking of Ray, he is coming off a great shooting performance against the Lakers which saw him go 4-6 from behind the arc en route to a game-high 24 points. Back on January 22nd against Portland, he shot a pitiful 3-14 from the floor, but his looks were still pretty clear. Even though Allen has only shot over 50% from downtown in 15 of 51 games this season (29%), he still is a dangerous enough shooter that we must take serious. With Boston having one of the best 1-3 combos in the league, Rondo, Allen, and Pierce, there really isn't anyone the Trail Blazers can put Roy on to defend to help him exert less effort on defense. He most likely will get the call on Ray tonight, which means a lot of running around on the defensive end, especially around and through multiple screens used to free Ray up. To help mask Roy's hamstring, I would think Coach Nate would use a lot of switching when Allen is being ran off of picks to preserve not only Roy's energy for the 4th quarter, since he isn't in complete game shape yet, but so he doesn't put too much strain on his hamstring by trying to make that last gasp of effort in hopes of getting a hand in Allen's face.

    With both teams in the NBA's top 5 in opposition points per game, Boston #1 at 93.5 and Portland #5 and 95.1, this has all the makings of a low-scoring, grind it out type of game. I think it is safe to say that players like Pierce, Aldridge, and Rondo will get their averages, but what will be the difference maker tonight will be role players. We all saw on Tuesday how Martell Webster broke the game open with his 28 points and 7 daggers from I-5. Without newly acquired Nate Robinson and recently dealt Eddie House, the Celtic bench takes a huge hit. On the other hand, Portland possesses Webster, Bayless, Fernandez, Cunningham, and Batum who are all capable of scoring in bunches to spark a Blazers win.

    Okay, enough beating around the bush. Everyone wants to see what Marcus Camby is going to bring to the Blazers arsenal tonight. One commonality both of Portland's most recent acquisitions, Dre and Marcus, have is their intelligence on the court. Both are students of the game and knew most of our plays even before being introduced as Trail Blazers, which should make for a smooth transition for Camby. Dre has worked out fantastically to date and if there is one intangible factor that can measure potential success it is owning a high basketball IQ, which the "Camby Man" obtains. I wouldn't expect a world-beating performance out of him, as he is almost 36 years old, but look for a couple of blocks, double digits rebounds, and about 6 points. Hopefully his presence will be able to keep the Celtics out of the paint who got an inexcusable 56 points in the paint last meeting.

    Boston is an aging team, with Pierce, KG, and Allen each at least 32 years old, and playing on the second half of a back to back, I really love Portland's chances to jump on them early and keep their foot on the gas pedal. Two factors play into this thinking. One, the Blazers have already played Boston very tough by forcing overtime and did so by giving up 56 in the paint and playing without Roy and Batum. Secondly, the crowd is going to be hype tonight. I expect all the loose balls to go Portland's way as they are the fresher team and the extra adrenaline rush the Rose Garden Faithful will provide. Boston will keep it around 10 in the 1st half, but look for a huge 3rd quarter from Portland to put this one away. As mentioned, LaMarcus will have his usual 22 and 9, but Rudy and Martell are going to continue their hot shooting ways and blow the game open. The Blazers bench is going to be the x-Factor.
    Game 57 Prediction: Trail Blazers 98 Celtics 84
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