Boston is losing two out of every three games this season & although they are competitive against the NBA odds at 19-20 ATS, they are in a horrendous slump with not many options to improve.
Boston is obviously in rebuilding mode and is looking to stockpile high picks while figuring out who on the current roster is still worth keeping. The Celtics path of choice does set up the possibility for NBA basketball handicappers and those making sports picks alike to consider Boston mostly – Play Against – material for the foreseeable future until the sportsbooks level the playing field.
Danny Ainge Must Have Plan, Nobody Quite Sure What
The Celtics general manager has never been afraid to make bold moves. Ainge found a way to create the basketball version of the –Three Amigos- when they brought Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to go along with Paul Pierce.
Once that group had run its course, Ainge dispersed them, brought in Brad Stevens to coach an NBA team and its egos after being in a highly successful, yet controlled environment like Butler.
With the trade of Rajon Rondo, you literally need a program to know who is wearing the kelly green uniforms.
If you are making NBA picks, one would be familiar with Evan Turner, but his attitude has led to him being a journeyman at just 26 years old. Marcus Thornton and Brandon Bass have been around the league for awhile. If you followed college basketball closely, names like Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller, Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk would have a familiar ring and possibly a James Young or Avery Bradley might have recognizable names.
However, this mostly nondescript roster is 3-12 (6-9 ATS) since Dec. 21st and one can only wonder if coach Stevens knew all this was going to take place and if he wants to stick around to possibly see it blossom into something worthwhile.
Portland Trying to Fight Through Injuries
With big men Robin Lopez and Joel Freeland already on the shelf, not having All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge magnifies Portland’s frontcourt weaknesses. Aldridge hurt his thumb in the second quarter of the Blazers' 98-95 victory against Sacramento and though the MRI came back negative, there is no immediate timetable for his return.
Portland is 1-4 SU and ATS in its past five outings and the inability to score and defend inside the arc is showing.
In this stretch, the Trail Blazers have scored 96.5 points a contest until the 113 points last night in the loss at Phoenix (name one Suns player that would even make the All-Pacific Division defensive first team). Opposing teams are focusing on Portland’s talented backcourt and are willing to concede shots from their frontcourt players.
Opponents are also being fearless in attacking the rim with no shot-blockers in sight and in the last five games the Blazers have surrendered 104.8 PPG, compared to season average of 97.4.
Boston would appear to be the right tonic to right the ship, but does Portland have enough to quell the storm?
Betting Odds and Head to Head
Portland is a 7.5-point favorite against the NBA odds and because of the presumed lack of defense in this matchup; the total is up two points to 203.5.
The Blazers won back in Bean Town in late November 94-88 as 4.5-point favorites and they have now taken four straight with three covers.
Boston continues their barbaric six-game Western Conference road trip with four games in six games after tonight in Denver, Golden State, Utah and Minnesota. The Celtics coming into this affair are 1-4 and 2-3 ATS with two days off.
After last night’s game in Phoenix, Portland is 7-2 and 6-3 ATS without rest. The Blazers will face Washington on Saturday, before heading out on a four- game Eastern swing, starting at Brooklyn on Monday.
Portland would appear to be the right choice, but I could see these two teams going up and down the floor without much defense, which from a tempo standpoint favor Boston.
If my hunch is correct, the C’s have enough offense to hang around and make this interesting and end covering the spread.
NBA Basketball Free Pick – Boston +7.5 at 5Dimes