The Boston Celtics face their first real big test of the season tonight at T.D. Garden. The reason I say this is no one really knew what to expect from this new look C's team who started out the season 0-4 before going on a 4 game win streak then having a disappointing loss against Charlotte at home two nights ago. The Celts didn't come out to play that night, which is somewhat understandable considering that they are a young team coming off, what for many of the players had to be, the signature win of of their young basketball lives Saturday night in Miami.
However, they're nine games in, should have grown accustomed to playing with this team and should have a good handle on Brad Stevens system and expectations. Also, Jared Sullinger will be in the lineup tonight unlike the loss to the Bobcats.
They've also had a day off to rest and prepare so tonight will be an excellent gauge as to whether this team's for real or just got hot for the four game win streak and will ultimately be in next year's lottery.
Portland is a very good team coming in at 6-2 in a loaded Western Conference and leading the Northwest Division. The Blazers also come into Boston hot, having won four in a row. Although, Portland has not had much success recently against The Celtics in Beantown having lost ten in a row there.
The Blazer front court in particular should pose a real challenge to the somewhat undersized Celtic front line. LaMarcus Aldridge is quietly becoming one of the best power forwards in the NBA averaging 21.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
Robin Lopez will also present a dilemma for The Celts as the seven footer has posted double doubles in three straight contests including a monster 13 point 15 rebound performance against his former team, the surprising Phoenix Suns, in a hard fought one point victory in Portland on Wednesday.
It will be interesting to see Brad Stevens' rotations tonight but I would guess Vitor Faverani will get more minutes then Kelly Olynyk strictly due to these problematic matchups.
The Blazers also have some talent at the guard position in second year guard Damian Lillard who is averaging just under 20 points and six assists a game. His scoring numbers are somewhat deceiving though, considering he is shooting a miserable 33 percent from inside the arc but a stellar 44 percent from behind the three point line.
Avery Bradley will probably be assigned to Lillard and it should be fun watching one of the best young defenders hound one of the league's best young streak scorers.
Truthfully, I'm not sure what to make of this game, but I do think it will be won or lost on whether The Celts can somewhat contain the two headed front court beast, especially on the boards, that is Aldridge and Lopez.
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Clint Corey 11/15/2013 01:44:00 PM Tweet Edit