Boston at Portland
9:00 P.M. ET
Boston: 100.5 points/100 possessions (21st)
Portland: 101.8 points/100 possessions (16th)
Boston: 99.6 points allowed/100 possessions (5th)
Portland: 105.6 points allowed/100 possessions (25th)
Probable Trail Blazers Starters:
Damian Lillard (PG), Wesley Matthews (SG), Nicolas Batum (SF), LaMarcus Aldridge (PF), and J.J. Hickson (C)
View From The Opposing Bench: The Portland Roundball Society
Thumbnail: For the second time this season, the Celtics get to see old friend, Sasha Pavlovic. However, that is obviously not the major storyline for this contest. It is rather, how will the Celtics respond after drubbing the Suns? Jeff Green started on Friday for Kevin Garnett, and he took advantage of his expanded role. In fact, he has done so during almost all of February. He has scored at least eight points in each of his last 14 games. Doctors did not expect Green to be fully recovered until the second half of the 2012-13 season, so it is possible that he is finally playing up to his expectations now that he is healthy.
With the Celtics adding bench players on the fly, they will actually be facing the worst scoring bench in the league. The Trail Blazers’ 16.6 bench points per game are by far the lowest by an NBA team this season. Their weak bench combined with their youthful starting lineup has led to seven consecutive losses, the league’s longest current losing streak. The Trail Blazers will look to avoid their first eight-game losing streak since 2006. Rookie sensation Damian Lillard, who has scored double-digit points in all but four of the games that he has played this season, will hope to stop the losing skid. The Trail Blazers will also have to contain the Celtics’ outside shooters, who even without Garnett gave Boston its best road shooting percentage of the season on Friday.
Heading into Sunday, Paul Pierce has made exactly 100 three-pointers. He is now the only player to hit the century mark in made three-pointers in each of the last 13 seasons. At age 35, the Truth might not be able to get to the hoop as easily as he used to, but his shooting is still benefitting the Celtics very much. His 1,778 career three-pointers made are the franchise’s most by a large margin. In addition, he is on pace to once again crack the top 10 three-pointers made by a Celtic in a single season. Although the Celtics were successful with Pierce only taking five shots on Friday, they will need some more attempts from him in the upcoming games.
Prediction: Pierce, who is only 11 free throws made from passing Charles Barkley for 11th on the all-time list, performs well and inches closer to Barkley in the victory, giving Portland’s its eighth straight loss.
Celtics 97, Trail Blazers 92