Originally written November 30, 2012 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
PDX on a slippery slope The Portland Trail Blazers have begun their seven-game road trip with three straight losses, but the worst part is that each and every one of their opponents was considered beatable heading into the East Coast swing. Matchup: Portland (6-9) @ Boston Celtics (8-7) Venue: TD Garden Time: 7:30 PM ET Date: Friday, November 30, 2012 Coming off a loss to the only winless team in the NBA—the Washington Wizards—Portland now travels to Boston to take on the Celtics in their “first real test” of the current road trip. Trail Blazers have lost 8 straight games in Boston. (Photo: Bruce Ely/Oregonian) Game Notes/How They Match Up Despite the differences in their records, the Blazers and the Celtics actually match up quite nicely. Both teams are middle-of-the-road in scoring, both teams are in the bottom 10 in points allowed and both teams struggle rebounding the ball. Points in the paint have been a problem for these two squads, as neither has truly been able to enforce much of an offensive presence at the rim. The Blazers are currently sitting at 13th in the Western Conference, while the Celtics are at seventh out East. Neither team is a lock for the postseason, but Boston clearly has the better odds at this point in the year. What to Watch: Portland The Trail Blazers entered this season with a fast-break mentality, but they’ve yet to show they can compete at a fast pace on a regular basis. Against the Washington Wizards, the Blazers scored just one point in transition, which obviously came off a free-throw and not a made bucket. Portland has yet to establish a true go-to option this year behind LaMarcus Aldridge, which means easy points are a welcomed thought for a team still molding their offense. The Blazers have lost eight straight games in Boston throughout the years, and while it’s going to take an outstanding overall effort to win this one, getting easy points on the break will only help a struggling Portland team. What to Watch: Boston The Celtics are going to be without Rajon Rondo because of his in-game altercation with Kris Humphries, which means they must find another way to distribute the ball in their half-court and fast-break offenses. Batum will match up against Pierce in Friday’s matchup. (Photo: Getty) Rondo is currently averaging 12.9 assists per game, and the team is third in the league as a result. They’re very good at moving the ball around and they’re solid in the fast break, but they’re going to be looking for someone to take on the role of facilitator with their point guard out. Key Matchup If LaMarcus Aldridge were set to match up against Kevin Garnett, the game’s key matchup wouldn’t even be in question. The two bigs have had bad blood for each other throughout the years, and the battle between the two of them has been heated on more than one occasion. However, Garnett is playing center this season, which means the game’s top matchup belongs to Nicolas Batum and Paul Pierce. At the small forward position, these two players are prominent scorers in their respective offenses. Both can score from the perimeter, both can attack the rim and both ave averaging about 19 points per game. Each player is a good three-point shooter, but Pierce has the edge at this point in the year, as he’s shooting greater than 40 percent from long distance. Injury Report Portland: DAY-TO-DAY—LaMarcus Aldridge, Victor Claver Boston: OUT—Rajon Rondo (Suspension), QUESTIONABLE—Chris Wilcox, Jeff Green Prediction The Trail Blazers have struggled up to this point in the road trip, and until they can prove they have it in them to win, you have to assume that the opposing team has the edge—whoever it may be. Blazers 91 – Boston 99 CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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