The Boston Celtics look to even up their West Coast trip with a win tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland is not as bad as the Phoenix Suns, but they’re currently on a 7 game losing streak. This could potentially be a trap game as the Celtics are favorites, and even though they’ve had injuries, Boston should still come away with a double-digit victory. In their previous game, the Celtics eclipsed the Suns and are looking to do the same in Portland.
Boston has to enter tonight’s game aggressive on both ends of the floor. When they’re passive and don’t look to push the ball, it gives the opponent time to set up their defense and allow them to get easy buckets on offense. Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, and Courtney Lee set the tone in Phoenix and it’s important they carry that momentum over into tonight. When Boston pushes the pace, not many teams can keep up, and Boston must exploit Portland’s weaknesses.
I’m intrigued to see Terrence Williams and Jordan Crawford on the court at the same time again. Friday we got out first look at Crawford, and when Williams was on the floor with him, both played terrific together. They both played smart, didn’t make careless passes, and for two guys who were just added to the team this week and not given time to practice with each other, they seemed to click on offense. What makes Williams and Crawford so vital to the team’s success is that they move well without the ball which allows spacing for their teammates.
For the rest of the trip, the emphasis should be on the bench and how they play together. We know what the starters can do, but developing the bench and getting them all on the same rhythm is crucial as they enter March, which is the last full month of the NBA season. The bench will be required to score points in the playoffs, and getting them playing time to boost their conference and build that chemistry would be huge.
Coming out early and getting a lead in the first half is important as tonight is the first game of a back-to-back. Doc Rivers will most likely limit the starter’s minutes so they’ll be well rested to take on the Utah Jazz who are a playoff contender in the Western Conference. Boston must end this west coast trip on a bright note before heading into March. This is crunch time for the Celtics and they can’t afford to lose games to teams they should steamroll over. Tonight, Boston has to take care of business to keep pace with the teams ahead of them in the standings.