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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Boston Celtics Preview

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The Blazers try to shake off Sunday’s disappointing loss to the Heat, hosting the Celtics at the Moda Center.

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NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Boston Celtics Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (31-22) vs. Boston Celtics (28-26)

The Portland Trail Blazers rollercoaster continues — blowing out bad teams and failing dismally against those with championship aspirations. While the Celtics have been similarly Jekyll and Hyde-ish, they still clearly plan to be in the hunt for a title come July. The Blazers need to break free of this up and down play, make a statement against Boston and take home the chocolates.

Tuesday, April 13 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, TNT, NBA TV, NBA League Pass or see games all season on fuboTV
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out)
Celtics injuries: Evan Fournier (out)
SBN Affiliate: Celtics Blog

What To Watch For

  • Lillard. Please don’t come for me with pitchforks — I live in Australia so I’m probably safe — but Damian Lillard has been just as unpredictable as his team of late. Over the past five games, he’s averaged 17. 8 points on 35 percent from the field and 24 percent from beyond the arc. While it’s unfair to place the team’s recent malaise on its team captain, we all know he’s better than this.
  • More Nass. Less Melo. Possibly another contentious point. But I for one want Little playing more and the streaky Melo-stopping-the-ball less. Last week we saw Little’s playing time increase, let’s hope this isn’t a just a fad but a sign of things to come. And while I’m sure Anthony provides a great deal of experience and guidance, I’m not sure how much he’s helping the team on the court.
  • Nurkic. While it was exciting to watch Enes Kanter pull down 30 boards against the Pistons, I felt just as content watching the return of rim protection on Sunday night, thanks to the much beloved Jusuf Nurkic. All we want is the big man to enjoy some continuity on the court because he genuinely opens up a whole new dimension to what the Blazers can do on both sides of the ball.

What Others Are Saying

Jeff Clark at Celtics Blog has a few questions and concerns about Boston’s team moving forward.

Looking at the big picture, I think a lot of the excuses (COVID, condensed year, injuries, etc.) are valid and a lot of teams have had similar issues (to varying degrees). But this team simply hasn’t responded in a way that you would expect or hope.

It is possible that the loss of Gordon Hayward left us short-handed in a way that had trickle down effects we couldn’t overcome. Lower rotation guys were forced into larger roles than what they could handle and injuries and COVID restrictions only exacerbated the issue. Is Evan Fournier the plug to that hole that we need? Is Kemba Walker playing in every playoff game (because there shouldn’t be back-to-backs) going to help the pieces fit better? Or is all of that just a pipe dream on a ship that has already sailed past Provincetown?

Bottom line: I don’t know. So no more scoffing for me (this year).

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week yesterday, writes Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston.

Tatum also made Celtics history last week, passing Larry Bird as the youngest player to score at least 50 points in a game. He’s now recorded at least 25 points and 10 rebounds in three consecutive games, an accomplishment not done in Boston since Paul Pierce in 2003.

Tatum takes home the East Player of the Week award for the second time this season and third time in his career. He appears to be hitting his stride during a crucial stretch run for the C’s, who sit seventh in the East at 28-26 after winning five of their last six.