The Portland Trailblazers take on the Boston Celtics at the World of Sports Arena in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday afternoon at 3:35 pm EST. The Blazers are coming off a win on Friday night versus the Memphis Grizzlies in overtimeas their stars certainly stepped up late to get a much-needed win. On the other hand, the Celtics fell by seven points to the Portland Trailblazers thanks to a late surge led by Giannis Antetekoumpo.
The Trail Blazers were seven games below .500 (good for fourth in the Northwest Division) when the season paused in March. With a combination of injuries up front from Zach Collins along with Pau Gasol has really hurt the team. Also, Hassan Whiteside has not been consistent and has also suffered from the injury bug as well. Of course, their absences allowed for much more of a scoring weight to be placed on stars Damian Lillard(29 ppg, 8 rebs), C.J. McCollum (23 ppg), along with small forward Carmelo Anthony (15 ppg, 6 rebs). In fact, the trio combined for a total of eighty-three points in Portland’s win over the Grizzlies.
At a record of 43-22 in March, the Celtics were second in the Atlantic standings. Most importantly, Arguably their best star in Kemba Walker(21 ppg) was not the leading scorer. Guard Jayson Tatum(23 ppg) was fantastic heading into March of 2020 and coming off a thirty-point night in a road win over the Indiana Pacers before pandemic concerns temporarily shut down all NBA functions. Forward Gordon Heyward (17 ppg, 7 rebs) also began to come on early in March as well in posting two consecutive 24+ point nights while shooting 50% from the floor for the 2019-20 season (39% from long-range). Enes Kanter (8 ppg, 8 rebs) along with Marcus Smart (14 ppg) continue to provide a lift off the bench for a Celtics squad seeking to maintain their earlier success.
Celtics' offense struggles versus BucksThe Celtics’ Tatum may be the leading scorer, yet the guard struggled mightily versus the Bucks in shooting 2-18 FG (0-4 3FG) on the night while ending with just five points in over thirty-two minutes of play. Walker played limited minutes (19) and finished with sixteen points on five of nine shooting (3-5 3FG) while Smart came off the bench to post a game-high twenty-three in addition to Jaylen Brownpacing the starting five with twenty-two in the loss. The Celtics not only had their fair share of defensive breakdowns during the end of the contest, but, the Bucks clamped down on Walker along with Tatum as the game progressed.
Marcus Smart brought his well-known intensity for us tonight during our first seeding game against the Bucks. pic.twitter.com/VGTlVicYTj— Boston Celtics (@celtics) August 1, 2020
Boston shot just 40% on the night as a team along with a miserable 30% from the floor. When matching up with the Trailblazers, teams must be able to consistently put the ball in the basket to keep pace, but must also ensure that they keep up their intensity on the defensive end to slow down Lilliard and McCollum. Boston limited the looks of Anthony and McCollum in their one and only matchup of the year at the Moda Center in February as they shot a combined 15-38 FG (7-18 3FG). Also, Lilliard did not suit up for the Trailblazers in this contest as they fell by twelve points. Important to note that Tatum posted thirty-six in the game with eight treys.
Trailblazers unable to clamp down defensively versus GrizzliesPortland was involved in a high-scoring affair versus the Grizzlies in their first true matchup after the stoppage in March. The team shot 54% from the floor (43% 3FG) yet needed overtime to take out Memphis thanks to a total of fifty-five points by scored by Jaren Jackson, Jr. along with guard Ja Morant. Also, sixteen turnovers by the Blazers, five by Anthony along with four from Josef Nurkic,also kept the Grizzlies in the fight. Again, big games by Lillard (29 points, 9 ass), McCollum (33 points, 6 ass), along with Anthony (21 points, 7 rebs) bailed out what was a shaky defensive performance for Portland. In fact, they allowed 30+ points to the Grizzlies in three of the first four quarters.
"In these types of situations the most important thing is... 𝗡𝗘𝗩𝗘𝗥 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗗."— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) July 29, 2020
A look back at our season to date. pic.twitter.com/KrylfjrD3M
Boston shoots 46% from the floor as a team and possesses the ability to score from the perimeter with Walker along with Tatum. Portland must be able to make more of a commitment on the defensive end in order to make this game competitive. Of course, this effort will have to start up front with Nurkic, Collins, along with Whiteside as they must continue to be aggressive. Nurkic was big on both ends of the court in scoring eighteen points while recording nine rebounds in addition to six blocks in the win over Memphis, however, Collins posted just seven points and nine boards while Whiteside played just seventeen minutes ending with seven points along with just four rebounds.
- Celtics are 16-8 in last 24 games
- Celtics are 13-6 in last 19 games away from TD Bank Arena
- Trailblazers are 7-10 in last 17 games
- Trailblazers are 7-19 in last 26 games away from Moda Center
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
There is no line on this game as of yet, however, I will give the edge to the Celtics. On one hand, their offense will be seeking a much better performance after their slip-up versus a solid Bucks squad. On the other hand, Portland really stinks it up on the defensive end of the floor more often than not. This type of effort will certainly expose them versus a Boston team that can sink shots from the perimeter. Expect Tatum to recover from a rough shooting night in this contest while expecting Walker to increase his minutes in what will be a Boston win in the end.
Prediction: Boston Celtics
Full-Game Total Pick
Check back for game lines, however, one can conclude that this will definitely be an up and down affair in this contest. Portland's offense saved the team yet again from suffering a loss on Friday. On the other hand, look for Boston to get going early and often after their shaky night versus Milwaukee. Also, the Celtics are aware of Portland's inability to perform consistency on the defensive end. It is for this reason that the Celtics will push the pace more often than not. The Trailblazers will make this game interesting, however; Just expect Boston to make the big shots down the stretch while sealing the deal by limiting scoring looks by the big three from Portland.