Boston Celtics vs. Portland Trail Blazers: NBA Expert Handicapper Pick
(34-10, 21-21-2 ATS)
Portland Trail Blazers
(25-21, 22-22-1 ATS)
The quantity of injuries that Head Coach Doc Rivers is dealing with right now is almost absurd. He does have Kevin Garnett back in the lineup, but KG was only good for 18 minutes against the Cleveland Cavaliers a few nights ago. Semih Erden was forced into the starting lineup with both Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal out of the fold, and now, Paul Pierce is dealing with an ankle injury that took him out of the lineup in the middle of Tuesday’s duel with the Cavs to boot. Still, this is a team that is remarkable and is full of stars that can really shine. Ray Allen dropped 18 on Cleveland in limited minutes as well, while Rajon Rondo had 11 points and another ho hum 10 assist performance. Rondo feels like he is good for a double-double every single night, as there is no man in the NBA that averages more assists than he does at 12.9 per game. Defensively, this is a team that is allowing just 91.8 points per game this year, second best in the league and tops in the Eastern Conference, and things are only going to be made better in that department thanks to the return of Kendrick Perkins to the fold.
A five game winning streak came to a crashing halt against the Sacramento Kings on Monday night for the Blazers, as they inexplicably were defeated by one of the worst teams in the NBA 96-81 as seven point favorites. The good news for Portland is that it already has 25 wins on the season and is probably well on its way to the playoffs. The bad news is, eventually, it is going to have to beat some decent teams. The Blazers only have three wins against teams that are even going to remotely threaten the .500 mark since November 18th, and the rest of the 17 wins in that stretch have come against a ton of dog teams. The problem is that Brandon Roy is out of the lineup for at least another six weeks, and LaMarcus Aldridge, though a fantastic player, really can’t take on some of the best teams in the league all by himself. Aldridge is having a career year, averaging over 21 points per game, but without Roy in the lineup, names like Andre Miller and Wesley Matthews just aren’t doing enough to give him a hand.
As a result, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Celtics really came to town and laid a big time beat down on the hosts. The Blazers usually make for very unwelcome hosts to the opposition, but there is a real class difference between these teams. With this being the first, and not the last game of this long road trip for Boston, we think that it has a great chance to get off on the right foot.
NBA Free Pick: Boston Celtics -4
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