Game 18: Celtics vs. Trail Blazers
December, 1, 2010
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
|(13-4, 7-1 home)||-- vs. --||(8-9, 4-6 away)|
GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
The Boston Celtics are undefeated at home against Eastern Conference opponents this season. Boston would also like to own a home-court edge versus the West.
The Atlantic Division-leading Celtics try to win their fifth straight Wednesday night, when they go for their seventh consecutive victory at home versus the struggling Portland Trail Blazers.
Boston (13-4), which is 7-0 against the East at TD Garden in 2010-11, has dropped four in a row at home to the West since a 94-86 victory over Sacramento on March 26. The defending Eastern Conference champions lost 89-84 to Oklahoma City on Nov. 19 in their only home game versus the West in 2010-11.
Boston, though, returns to TD Garden riding a four-game winning streak following Tuesday's 106-87 victory at Cleveland.
Playing with a tender left hamstring and sore foot, Rajon Rondo had a season-high 23 points with 12 assists. Kevin Garnett posted his second straight double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds and Glen Davis added 17 and 11 off the bench as the Celtics kept pace with Orlando for the best record in the East.
"He's the one who runs our team," Garnett said of Rondo, who leads the NBA with 14.1 assists per game.
Rondo will try to lead the Celtics to a season high-tying fifth straight victory as they try to record their seventh consecutive home win versus Portland (8-9). After winning by an average of 21.3 points in the Trail Blazers' previous four visits, Boston needed overtime to pull out a 98-95 victory Jan. 22.
If Wednesday's contest is close down the stretch, Celtics coach Doc Rivers has to like his team's chances of defeating a Portland team playing so poorly in the fourth quarter.
The Trail Blazers scored 11 points in the final 12 minutes of Tuesday's 88-79 loss at Philadelphia, and they are averaging 15.3 points in the fourth quarter during their four-game skid.
Portland's last five-game losing streak was March 27-April 6, 2008.
Read the full preview HERE.
FORSBERG'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
- Fresh legs: The Celtics endured two of their four losses during the second nights of back-to-backs this season (Cleveland, Dallas), but are well-positioned for success Wednesday thanks in part to 1) Being at home and 2) Limiting the minutes of Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in Tuesday's win over the Cavaliers. So long as Rajon Rondo can hold up after battling recent injuries (hamstring, feet) and Kevin Garnett shows no lingering effects from rolling his right ankle Tuesday (he stayed in and finished the game), Boston will have as close to a full tank as they could ask for on the back end of a back-to-back.
- Key matchup: KG vs. Aldridge: LaMarcus Aldridge, the second overall pick in the 2006 draft, registered 19 points with 10 rebounds the last time the Blazers visited Boston. We've seen Garnett making amends against those that outworked him last year, so it will be interesting to see if Aldridge is the latest on Garnett's list.
- Lean on the D: The Blazers have been woeful shooting the ball during a four-game losing streak, shooting a mere 39.1 percent from the floor during the last four games (and dipping to 28.4 percent in the fourth quarter of those losses). It could be a frustrating night if Boston brings its normal defensive intensity.