The Trail Blazers have headed to Boston to begin their first, big road trip of the season. They will be met by Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett— or, more likely, a rag-tag team of decent players trying to plug holes in a sinking ship. I’ve always hated the Celtics franchise, and while my Ron Swanson giggles rise at their misfortune, I can certainly appreciate what they’re trying to do. A new coach, some new players (some awful contracts), and a nothing to lose attitude make them a bit unpredictable, so don’t underestimate them; especially at home.
Here are the players that the Trail Blazers need to watch out for tonight:
#1) Jordan Crawford
Remember that guy on the Wizards who loved to shoot more than most people love their children? You know, the one who sank a heartbreaker in the Rose Garden last season to finish out Washington’s season sweep of Portland? Well he’s dressed in green this year and seems to have gained the confidence of new head coach Brad Stevens. Believe it or not, Jordan Crawford is thriving at point guard in the absence of Rajon Rondo and has averaged 15.0 points and 6.3 assists in four starts. The Celtics won three of those games and will look to test their latest formula for a fourth against the Blazers.
#2) Jeff Green
Many thought that Green’s 4 year, $36 million contract was one of the worst in the league this time last year. My favorite little ego boost is looking back on those fools and laughing (sorry fools). Jeff Green was always intended to replace Paul Pierce, it was just a matter of when. Now he is Boston’s number one option, ringing up 17 points a night with great efficiency. I hear some teams pay their small forwards over $11 million a season for contributions like that. The Celtics will look to Jeff Green to carry the team with his improved shooting touch and highlight reel explosiveness.
#3) Avery Bradley
He probably won’t shoot the lights out, but he’s tasted some recent success on the offensive end. I’m more concerned with the road block he presents to Portland’s backcourt. Avery Bradley’s defense is almost as impressive as Damian Lillard’s offense, partially due to some sneaky hand-checking. Since turnovers have been a huge problem for Portland, they need to be extra careful of Bradley’s relentless pressure and keen instincts.
#4) Brandon Bass / Kelly Olynyk
Last, but, well… least, we have Brandon Bass and Kelly Olynyk. Both have played pretty well, but neither has slated their spot in the starting lineup for sure. A healthy Jared Sullinger will reignite the battle for minutes at power forward, and the Brazilian rookie Vitor Faverani is still challenging at center. The Celtics’ frontcourt is a mess right now, but the internal competition means they will all be fired up. If you only expect big nights from big names, you’re setting yourself up for failure. The Trail Blazers need to lock down the paint and not make that mistake.
Tags: Portland Trail Blazers