Portland Trail Blazers (31-38) vs. Boston Celtics (48-22)
The Portland Trail Blazers have lost four in a row and it won’t get any easier on Friday night. With injury concerns and just some really bad vibes from fans and the press, it would take a brave person to predict a win for Rip City. Stranger things have happened, and of course Damian Lillard plays for the home team, so you never know. Dame’s name on the injury report along with Jerami Grant’s doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, but as of this writing Lillard at least is probable to play. The Blazers are going to need him.
The Celtics have gotten into a pattern of under-performing lately, so the door might be open just a crack if Portland can put things together for four quarters. Last time out the Celtics just snuck by the Minnesota Timberwolves by a score of 104-102, and they somehow managed to lose to the last place Houston Rockets on Monday. It’s not like they are steamrolling the competition. Still, Boston is capable of laying waste to a team like the Blazers, or inexplicably letting them hang around. The Blazers will be hoping for the latter.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Boston Celtics - Friday, March 16 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Justise Winslow (out), Ibou Badji (out), Jerami Gran (questionable), Damian Lillard (probable)
Celtics injuries: Danilo Gallinari (out), Robert Williams III (out), Payton Pritchard (out), Jayson Tatum (questionable)
SBN Affiliate: Celtics Blog
- Dare to dream. If this game were to be played on paper we wouldn’t bother writing a preview. The Celtics are simply better. We don’t have to go too far back in history to have evidence of that. When these two teams met on March 8 in Boston it really wasn’t much of a contest. Still, it’s not like Boston is playing like unbeatable juggernauts night-in and night-out, even if they probably should be given their talent and depth. The Celtics lost at Houston on Monday, just squeaked by Minnesota on Wednesday, and have a less-than-stellar three wins and four losses in their last seven games. The Celtics aren’t at their best and have given inferior teams a chance more often than they should. Why can’t it be the Blazers who take advantage this time?
- Shoot the ball better. A recurring scenario for the Blazers this season has been a significant drop off in shooting after acquitting themselves reasonably well in the early going. Shooting isn’t the only factor in Portland’s losing streak of late but it is quite significant. This starts getting into murkier territory, but data seems to indicate that the quality of the opportunities isn’t getting significantly worse as the games go on, just the results. The Blazers are due for a solid shooting performance for an entire game. Perhaps it can be against the Celtics.
- Protect the three-point line. When the Blazers played Boston last week we highlighted the same thing. The Celtics love to shoot from deep, and last time these two teams played Boston attempted 10 more three pointers and made a staggering 7 more than the Blazers. That’s a recipe for disaster. Portland simply needs to chase Boston off of the arc or it’s going to be a long evening at Moda Center.
What Others Are Saying
Bobby Krivitsky on SI.com writes that it’s defense that could get the Celtics back to the Finals.
Even if one believes their dip in play is due to boredom and fatigue, common around the NBA this time of year, coupled with Robert Williams’ absence, as this author has written throughout the season, it’s in the best interest of the defending Eastern Conference champions to get back to a defensive identity.
The deepest team in the NBA is the Boston Celtics according to Grant Hughes of the Boston Celtics.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the headliners, but this Celtics team is a no-questions-asked contender because it can throw up to 10 players onto the floor knowing each of them will add more than they subtract.
Jack Simone of Celtics Blog writes on the virtues of investing in a G League team. Hmmmm.
Just 112 miles north of TD Garden is the city of Portland, Maine - the home of the Maine Celtics for the last thirteen years. Boston’s G League squad is turning into a hub for quality players, as the organization has chosen to invest heavily in its future. Instead of using it as a dumping ground for rookies to just get reps, they’re treating it like a second family, and they’re already reaping the rewards.