NBA Preview: Celtics vs. Blazers

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Portland Trailblazers (8-9) at Boson Celtics (13-4)
Wednesday, December 1
7:30 PM ET
Game #18, Home Game #9
Radio:  WEEI, KXTG
TD Garden 
Referees:   Tom Washington, Derek Richardson, Leon Wood  
The Portland Trailblazers are making their only visit to the Garden tonight. This is the first meeting between the two teams with the Celtics making their visit to Portland on January 27. The Blazers are 4-5 on the road while the Celtics are 7-1 at home. 

Both teams are playing in the second of back to back games and both teams had to travel after their previous game. Portland lost in Philly while the Celtics won in Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Celtics starters played limited minutes in their game while the Blazers starters all played over 30 minutes in their loss to the Sixers. The Blazers have a youth advantage but the Celtics have an experience advantage. 

The Celtics have won 9 of the last 10 games between these two teams. Last season, the Celtics won the series 2‐0 with Paul Pierce leading the Celtics with an average of 16.5 points while shooting  50.0% from three‐point range. Rajon Rondo added a double‐double effort with 14.5 points and 10.0 assists to go along with 2.5 steals per game. Andre Miller led the Blazers with 22.0 points and 5.0 assists per game. LaMarcus Aldridge averaged 17.0 points and a team‐high 9.5 rebounds per game.

Portland’s .402 (39-58) 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).

Probable Starters
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo  10.6 PPG,  14.2 APG .2.5 SPG
Andre Miller  13.6 PPG, 7.4 APG, 0.1 SPG

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen  16.7 PPG,  3.4 APG, .452 3P%
Brandon Roy    19.0 PPG,  2.8 APG,  .378 3P%

Small Forward
Paul Pierce   19.7 PPG,  4.9 RPG, 2.9 APG
Nicolas Batum  12.6  PPG, 4.3 RPG,  1.5 APG

Power Forward
Kevin Garnett   15.7 PPG,  9.3 RPG, 0.6 BPG
LaMarcus Aldridge   18.3 PPG,  8.1 RPG,  1.3 BPG

Shaquille O'Neal   12.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG,  0.6 BPG, 
Marcus Camby    6.6 PPG,  10.9 RPG,  1.7 BPG

Boston Bench Mob

Marquis Daniels
Glen Davis
Luke Harangody
Nate Robinson
Von Wafer
Semih Erden
Avery Bradley

Kendrick Perkins (knee) out
Jermaine O'Neal (knee)  out
Delonte West (wrist)  out

Trailblazers Bench
Dante Cunningham
Wesley Matthews
Rudy Fernandez
Armon Johnson
Luke Babbitt
Patrick Mills

Sean Marks (ankle) questionable
Joel Przybilla (stomach flu) questionable
Greg Oden (knee) out
Elliot Williams (knee)  out

Key Matchups
Ray Allen vs Brandon Roy
Ray Allen needs to make Brandon Roy work on defense so as to limit his effectiveness on the offensive end. 

Shaquille O'Neal vs Marcus Camby
The battle of the old centers in the league.  Shaq, at 38. vs Camby, at 36.  Shaq needs to limit Camby's contributions on the boards especially. 

Honorable Mention
Rajon Rondo vs Andre Miller
Rondo's hamstring is healed but he is still bothered by the plantar fasciitis. Rondo is the engine that makes the Celtics run and he should be able to get the upper hand vs Miller.  

Keys to the Game
Defense - The biggest key to every game will be 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. In their two meetings last season, the Blazers out rebounded the Celtics 81-70, including a 26-11 edge in offensive rebounding.

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. 

Focus -  The Celtics must focus on each and every game. When they come out focused and play with energy and purpose for the entire game, they win. 

Home Court
The Celtics have said that they want to defend their home court this season and make it a tough place for opponents to play.