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Celtics vs Trail Blazers 3/31/16
After a devastating loss Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Celtics look to rebound against the Trail Blazers tonight in Portland. The C’s are now 1-1 on this five game road trip and at best are preforming at a mediocre level. Boston must move on from their ugly defeat Tuesday night and focus heavily on the Trail Blazers. Pulling out a victory tonight would advance them to 2-1 and increase their chances of having home court to start off the playoffs. The Celtics are currently tied for the 5th seed with the Charlotte Hornets in the eastern conference standings and are a half of a game down to the Miami Heat for the 4th seed. The playoff seeding is becoming much more clear as we come down to the end of the NBA season, but what remains unclear is if the Celtics will capture the 3rd or 4th seed in the east. The Atlanta Hawks are now one and a half games ahead of the Celtics for the 3rd seed, so competing for the spot is still out in the open. Ideally we would all love to see Boston make a push and finish out this road trip strong, perhaps even giving Golden State a run for their money on Friday night. However realistically the C’s have a good chance of going 3-2, which will keep them just stable in the standings. Although looking towards the playoffs is what most success is all about, Boston needs to focus on tonight and get a key victory in Portland.
With the Trail Blazers teetering on the edge of a playoff berth, tonight will be no easy task for the C’s. As of right now the Trail Blazers are 6th in the west and are 3 games ahead of being 9th in the conference. The Rockets, Jazz, and Mavericks are right behind them, fighting desperately to gain ground to surpass them in the standings. The last time these two met the Celtics came away with their twelfth consecutive home win, beating the Blazers 116-93. Damian Lillard and C.J McCollum were only two of just three players to score in double digits, and they were both -22, the rest of their team had a hard time finding ways to score against the C’s lock down defense. As a whole the Blazers shot 40.5% from the field making in only 34 of their 84 attempts. The Trail Blazers back-court has been what’s been winning them games this season since the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge. As long as Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas keep a good defensive handle on Lillard and McCollum, the Celtics should have a relatively easy time with this Trail Blazers team who aren’t known for their defense.
Then again anything can happen on any given night, Boston’s starters last time were at their best as they all contributed highly, the lowest plus/minus of the five was Amir Johnston but he still was +12. He ended up with only 6 points, but had 5 offensive rebounds. Getting second chance points in any game is crucial to win the contest, Jared Sullinger also grabbed 11 boards and had 5 rebounds of his own. Isaiah Thomas did his thing and put up 30 points shooting 11-20 from the field and knocked down three 3’s. The C’s backcourt can easily keep up with the Trail Blazers, I think it’s up to our front court to solidify this win. High production with rebounding second chance opportunities can easily give us the edge in this matchup. I expect Sullinger and Amir to battle it out with Plumlee and Vonleh, and come up with helpful offense rebounds that can be turned into second chance points. Overall the Celtics need to bounce back with a win tonight to continue their fight for home court in the east.