Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Portland Trail Blazers
The Boston Celtics look to rebound after a disappointing loss Friday against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks with a Sunday afternoon clash in game two of the seeding phase in Orlando. The early tip-off of 3:30pm EST sees Boston square up against Portland in what should be an entertaining matinee affair.
These two teams last met on February 25th in Portland with the Celtics victorious 118-106, behind Jayson Tatum’s 36 points (14-22 FG, 8-12 3-PT). The Celtics will look to Tatum to regain that scoring touch after a disappointing showing so far in the bubble.
Portland comes into the clash after a long night Friday, with an OT victory against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Celtics can thank the young Grizzlies for taking it to the Blazers, who barely scrapped past as many Trail Blazers logged heavy minutes in the five-point win. CJ McCollum played a game-high 46 minutes and backcourt mate Damian Lillard logged 45 minutes, trying to contain dynamic rookie Ja Morant. Fellow starters Zach Collins and 36-year-old Carmelo Anthony each played 37 minutes apiece as well.
With Jusuf Nurkic back for Portland, Coach Terry Stotts elected to roll with the 6’11 Zach Collins to start alongside him, forming a two-man big duo which will be a handful for the Celtics. However, it was season-long starter Hassan Whiteside who finished the game off for the Trail Blazers. Nurkić battled foul trouble all night on his way to respectable 18 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 6 blocked in 33 minutes before eventually fouling out.
Mario Hezonja and Gary Trent Jr. had good games off the bench for Portland on Friday. Look out for Trail Blazers to roll with the small ball lineup of Lillard–McCollum-Trent-Anthony–Collins when Jusuf Nurkic sits.
Boston big man Enes Kanter will have some intel on the Trail Blazers, as the Turkish center played 23 games for Stott last season in Portland and was a factor in their deep playoff run after the horrendous injury to Nurkic.
For Boston, Kemba Walker is still on a minutes restriction after a crunch time 119-112 loss on Friday. Brad Wanamaker stepped up for the C’s chipping in 23 minutes in his stead and played a decent supporting role.
Marcus Smart was Boston’s best performer Friday, matching up against Giannis Antetokounmpo to Khris Middleton and everyone in between on his way to 23 points from the bench. Conversely, Jayson Tatum was lackluster with an uncharacteristic shooting night. “I can’t get no worse,” Tatum said of his performance Friday. “So I think I’ll play better tomorrow.” After the game, Friday coach Brad Stevens called Jayson Tatum “an unreal basketball player.”
Portland – Jaylen Adams, (game time decision: back)
How To Watch
Time – 3:30pm EST
TV – NBC Sports Boston, NBA League Pass