Opposing viewpoint: The Portland Roundball Society
Boston: 108.2 points/100 possessions (11th)
Portland: 111.0/100 possessions (5th)
Boston: 101.6 points allowed/100 possessions (3rd)
Portland: 107.1 points allowed/100 possessions (17th)
Probable Portland Starters:
LaMarcus Aldridge, Martell Webster, Andre Miller….and then it gets a little hairy. Jerryd Bayless? Juwan Howard? Rudy Fernandez?
Portland: OUT:Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, Joel Pryzbilla, Travis Outlaw, Nicolas Batum,
Boston: QUESTIONABLE: Kevin, Garnett OUT: Marquis Daniels
We are exactly half way into the season and how fitting is it that the team that squares off against Boston rivals them in injury bug bites. The mounting injuries isn’t the only tie this Portland team has with Boston. Both teams had very high expectations coming into the season but have yet to reach their full potential due to a string of bad luck. Also, who cannot forget that Brandon Roy could be wearing Celtics’ green had Danny Aingenot been enamoured with Sebastian Telfair (uhg, I know that hurts every time you think about it, and I’m sorry to have even brought it up).
Now that a bad taste is in your mouth, let me try to wash it out with a nice little C-Hub preview:
WHAT THE TRAILBLAZERS DO WELL:
Statistically, it would seem everything. If I had to pin point a few interesting things, I guess I would say:
Free Throw Shooting Percentage
That’s right. Including their big guys without knee tendons, the rotation players for the Blazers shoot the ball from the charity stripe at an average of 80%. The one outlier is rookie Dante Cunningham at 59%. To put their free throw percentage in perspective, reserve point guard and all around good player Steve Blake has the next lowest percentage at 71.4%. Something tells me his eight misses on the season are probably due to bad luck instead of career average FT shooting- and that something maybe the fact that he is a career 78% shooter.
The bottom line with mentioning this Blazers’ virtue: their big guys will knock down shots if you put them on the line. This means that if the game is close in the waining minutes, don’t count on trading missed free throws with threes. Ain’t gonna happen.
Take Good Shots
I haven’t seen Portland enough this year to cite specific examples, but the statistics show that they shoot a higher FG percentage than their opponents on fewer attempts. This could spell certain doom for the Celtics as they’ve lately had real trouble closing out on shooters. The type of weak closeouts the C’s are peddling these days are especially back-breaking from a momentum standpoint. I can’t definitively say that this will happen, especially with Garnett’s intensity back in the lineup, but I do know that if Andre Miller starts raining wide open three’s on the C’s, you might want to turn the channel.
WHAT THE TRAILBLAZERS DO POORLY:
…and only due to injuries:
Shoot from Three
With Brandon Roy and Travis Outlaw out, the Blazers are missing two of their sharpshooters. The problem is that they still have Rudy Fernandez and Steve Blake. While Blake is merely a consistent three point shooter in the vein of a Kirk Hinrich, Fernandez is a bona fide sharpshooter. Not only does Fernandez have a deadeye shot,he also has the unique ability to deflate an entire game with a big three. The good news is that aside from the occasional three from Blake and Martell Webster, Fernandez is the only guy the Celtics have to worry about pulling up at a moment’s notice.
Thin Up Front
The Blazers count on LaMarcus Aldridge and Juwan Howard to solidify their front court for most of the game, using rookies Cunningham and Jeff Pendergraph when needed. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blazers go small tonight, complicating Keven Garnett’s return- or at least his effectiveness. Still, the longer LaMarcus Aldridge is out of the game, the better for the Celtics. Saying that, if the Blazers decide to go small and run on the Celtics, Aldridge will undoubtedly play the five- which means he’s still on the floor and probably abusing Kendrick Perkins…
PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY
This dude is a young Rasheed Wallace. He’s incredibly long, and has a great turn around post jumper he can have at will. He’s also got a solid frame, good for backing down anyone- even players as big as Glen Davis. Now that I mention it, I don’t see how Big Baby can even begin to guard Aldridge in the post. On the perimeter, where Aldridge some times likes to show he can play, yeah Big Baby could stay with him, but Aldridge would be stupid to take his game off the block considering the thinness of the Blazers’ frontcourt.
Fernandez is one of the Spanish basketball players in the NBA I actually don’t love to hate. He’s athletic enough to play above the rim, yet he’s European enough to get really hot from outside. He also doesn’t do the same amount of complaining (to my memory anyway) that guys like Paul Gasol and Jose Calderon do.
PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY
Everyone Who is Injured
The cool thing about the Blazers is that even their roles players are pretty solid. I used to think Martell Webster was one of those nothing players like DeShawn Stevenson but then I looked at his stats and they are actually really solid.
Even the Blazers young rookies were solid picks. No telling if they’ll play tonight but Cunningham and Pendergraph are both efficient energy guys and everyone knows about Patty Mills’ upside. It would be great to see Mills get a run tonight but I doubt the Blazers would give him minutes against Rondo. That would be just too cruel.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM THE C’S TONIGHT
Again, a win, but barring that I want to see KG just play 20 solid, injury free minutes. I also want to see the energy pick up and Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens to get off the pine. Considering those pleas have fallen on deaf ears for the past month, I don’t see it happening- and if it doesn’t, I don’t see a win either.
Sorry C’s fans, but this Blazer’s team is good, regardless of injuries.
Blazers 105, Celtics 95