Celtics Begin Tough Road Trip in Portland

Boston Celtics (34-10) at Portland Trailblazers (25-21)
Thursday, January 27
10:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #45,  Road Game #20
Radio:  WEEI, KXTG
Rose Garden
Referees:  Ed Malloy,  Matt Boland,  Haywoode Workman
The Celtics begin their first Western road trip with a visit to the Portland Trailblazers.  This is the second meeting between these two teams this season with the Celtics winning at the Garden 99-95 after a frenzied Blazers comeback and a game winner by Ray Allen who had been just 2-11 up to that point. 

As with many of the Celtics games recently, there is a different cast for both teams in this game.  Marcus Camby and Brandon Roy will miss this game with Joel Przybilla and Wesley Matthews replacing them.  For the Celtics Shaq will more than likely be out and in his place will be Semih Erden.  And coming off the bench for the Celtics will be Perk in his second game back from injury.  LaMarcus Aldridge underwent an MRI on his hip after Monday's game but there was no damage and so he is expected to play in this one.  Wes Matthews tweaked his ankle in the last game and is likewise expected to play in this one.   Paul Pierce also tweaked his ankle in Tuesday's game but is also expected to play in this one. 

The Celtics have beaten the Blazers in 10 of their last 11 meetings.  And have won the last 7 times these teams have met.  The Celtics are 12-7 on the road and 7-3 in their last 10 games.  The Blazers are 16-6 at home and 6-4 in their last 10.  The Celtics are looking for their second straight win while the Blazers are hoping to avoid a 2 game losing streak after their 5 game winning streak was stopped by Sacramento on Monday.   

Portland’s .402 (39-59) all-time winning percentage against Boston is its lowest mark among all current NBA opponents. The Celtics are the NBA’s only active team with  a winning record in Portland (26-23).

According to an article in Oregon Live the Blazers are planning to come out strong and  establish themselves as the aggressor early.  The Celtics must match their early aggression and take their aggression a step further.  The Celtics can't take the Blazers for granted due to their injuries because the Blazers are still a dangerous team, even with Camby and Roy out. 

Probable Starters
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo  10.5 PPG,  12.9 APG  2.5 SPG
Andre Miller  12.9PPG, 7.1 APG, 1.7 SPG

Shooting Guard

Ray Allen  17.3 PPG,  3.1 APG, .453 3P%
Wesley Matthews    16.2 PPG,  2.0 APG,  .380 3P%

Small Forward
Paul Pierce   19.1 PPG,  5.2 RPG, 3.3 APG
Nicolas Batum  12.0  PPG, 4.8 RPG,  1.4 APG

Power Forward
Kevin Garnett   15.1 PPG,  8.9 RPG, 0.7 BPG
LaMarcus Aldridge   21.1 PPG,  8.8 RPG,  1.2 BPG

Semih Erden   4.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG,  0.6 BPG, 
Joel Przybilla   1.8 PPG,  3.7 RPG,  0.3 BPG

Boston Bench Mob
Marquis Daniels
Glen Davis
Luke Harangody
Nate Robinson
Von Wafer

Jermaine O'Neal (knee)  out
Delonte West (wrist)  out
Shaquille O'Neal (hip) day to day
Paul Pierce (ankle)  probable 
Marquis Daniels (family)  probable 

Trailblazers Bench
Dante Cunningham
Rudy Fernandez
Armon Johnson
Luke Babbitt
Patrick Mills
Chris Johnson
Sean Marks 

Greg Oden (knee) out
Elliot Williams (knee)  out
Brandon Roy (knee) out
Marcus Camby (knee)  out
LaMarcus Aldridge (hip) probable
Wesley Matthews (ankle) probable

Key Matchups
Kevin Garnett vs LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge is the reigning Player of the Week but he underwent an MRI on his hip after scoring just 9 points in their last game.  The MRI was negative and he is expected to play, but he may not be 100% and that would give KG the advantage.  If both players are healthy, this should be a very exciting matchup to watch. 

Rajon Rondo vs Andre Miller 
Miller is a good PG who looks to score but can also distribute the ball.  In their last meeting, Miller had 20 points on 9-17 shooting and 6 assists while Rondo put up 10 points on 4-7 shooting to go with 10 assists.  Rondo needs to be aggressive and go right at Miller from start to finish and set the pace for the Celtics and the game.

Honorable Mention

Kendrick Perkins vs Chris Johnson
With Camby out with a knee injury, the Blazers called up center Chis Johnson from the Dakota Wizards of the D-League.  Perk should be coming off the bench again and will be more than likely doing battle against this 6'11" rookie.  Hopefully we will see another solid injury free outing from Perk in this one. 

Keys to the Game
Defense - The biggest key to every game will be defense. This is even more important on the road where the opponents get a boost from their fans and the Celtics will need to clamp down even tighter on defense.   The Celtics must make defense their number 1 priority

Rebound - When the Celtics put out the effort to out-rebound their opponents it usually results in a win.  When they don't make the effort to rebound, it affects the effort in the other areas as well. Perk's return should help in this area. 

Bench -    The Celtics' bench must give them quality minutes in order to keep the starters from being worn out by the end of the game. This is especially important in back to back games like this one with the Suns looming on Friday night. 

Focus - The Celtics have tended to lose focus when they play against teams who have a losing record or who have a star out.  With the injuries on the Blazers, the Celtics may tend to take them lightly but that would be a big mistake because the Blazers are still a very dangerous young team. 

Be Aggressive - The Blazers have said that they are going to come out strong and try to set the tone for the game by being the aggressors.  The Celtics must be aggressive as well and take the ball to the basket, not settling for jumpers, and they need to be aggressive going after loose balls and rebounds as well. 


Effort and Focus
The Celtics are on the road and in order to win they need to be focused and put forth a solid effort from the opening tap to the final buzzer.  On the road they can't afford to coast or put out less than 100% effort.