The resurgent Boston Celtics will visit the Moda Center to take on the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, April 13th. Both teams are hovering just above the play-in tournament spots in their respective conference standings and will be vying to secure a top-six finish to secure direct qualification to the NBA playoffs.
The 2020-21 NBA season has not been easy for the Boston Celtics, as the team has been quite inconsistent so far and is only two games above .500. For the Portland Trail Blazers, their lack of defensive presence might hurt them in the postseason, but the Blazers' offense is elite.
Tuesday's contest will be the first between the Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics in the 2020-21 season. Their second and final matchup of the season will take place on May 2nd at Boston's TD Garden.
Boston Celtics vs Portland Trail Blazers prediction
Last season, the Boston Celtics were third in the Eastern Conference with a 48-34 record. More importantly, the team was efficient on both ends of the court. They ranked fourth in both, offensive and defensive ratings last season.
But in the 2020-21 season, the Boston Celtics have only the 11th best offense in the league and are in the middle of the pack in defensive rating (14th). The team has regressed in the current season and is hence struggling to enter the East's Top 6 (Boston is seventh at the moment).
At the Portland Trail Blazers' end, the team's major concern throughout the entire season, apart from injuries, has been the defense. While the Portland Trail Blazers have the sixth-best offense in the NBA, they're only 15th in Net Rating with -0.2 due to their poor defense (29th in the NBA and the worst among teams in playoff spots).
Both teams will be rested for their upcoming game and it should be a close one contest. However, the home side have a consistent offense while the Celtics are unpredictable on both ends of the court. Hence, the Portland Trail Blazers are favored to win this contest.
Boston Celtics vs Portland Trail Blazers combined starting 5
Point Guard - Damian Lillard | Shooting Guard - CJ McCollum | Small Forward - Jaylen Brown | Power Forward - Jayson Tatum | Center - Enes Kanter.
Damian Lillard will definitely be the best player on the court when the Portland Trail Blazers play against the Boston Celtics. Lillard is one of the top candidates for the 2020-21 NBA MVP award, and he is performing at a tremendous level.
He is averaging 28.7 points, 7.6 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game and has made 44% of his field goals, 38% of his threes (10.7 attempts per game), and 93% from his free throws.
His season and the Portland Trail Blazers' current record are definitely a huge accomplishment, as the team has been without Lillard's backcourt partner CJ McCollum for half of the season.
McCollum has played in only 28 of the Portland Trail Blazers' 53 games, but has done a great job for the team on offense. McCollum is averaging 23.5 points per game with 45/40/85 shooting splits.
At the Boston Celtics' end, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are the best and most exciting players on the roster. For Boston Celtics fans, Brown and Tatum are the franchise's hopes for the future.
Despite the Celtics' inconsistent form, both players are enjoying career-best campaigns.
Brown is averaging 24.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game with 49/40/75 shooting splits for coach Brad Stevens' team. Tatum is averaging, a career-best, 25.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game with 46/38/88 shooting splits.
Enes Kanter has been an extraordinary performer for the Portland Trail Blazers. Coach Terry Stotts' team needed him to do so after Jusuf Nurkic missed much of the year due to injuries.
Kanter has played in every game for the Portland Trail Blazers in the current campaign, averaging 12 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. He has had 34 starts this season and averages a tad over 26 minutes per game.
Moreover, Kanter has 29 double-doubles this season and there should be an argument on whether he should continue to be the Blazers' starting center for what's left of this campaign.