Both teams have a good chance of making the playoffs. The Portland Trail Blazers will look to extend their 3-game win streak, while the Boston Celtics will try to move up the Eastern Conference standings and secure a favorable playoff seeding.
Portland Trail Blazers vs Boston Celtics Prediction
The Boston Celtics might play without Kemba Walker, who is listed as doubtful due to a left oblique strain. In the absence of him and Jayson Tatum, the Boston Celtics slumped to an embarrassing loss against the OKC Thunder. However, after Tatum's return, the Boston Celtics have gone 2-0.
The Portland Trail Blazers, meanwhile, have had one of the most effective offenses in the league this season. They are ranked fifth in offensive rating, thanks to the exploits of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Both teams are enjoying a good spell, which makes it difficult to pick an outright winner in this game. But the Portland Trail Blazers' weak defense means the Boston Celtics will start off as the marginal favorites.
On that note, let's take a look at a hypothetical combined five of the Portland Trail Blazers and the Boston Celtics.
Portland Trail Blazers vs Boston Celtics Combined 5
Point Guard - Damian Lillard | Shooting Guard - CJ McCollum | Small Forward - Jaylen Brown | Power Forward - Jayson Tatum | Center - Jusuf Nurkic.
Damian Lillard is the man on form, which is why he would be the starting point guard in this hypothetical combined lineup.
Lillard has been the standout performer for the Portland Trail Blazers for three seasons. He is the Blazers' all-time leader in 50-point games. He may face an intriguing duel with the Boston Celtics' Evan Fournier in this game, but considering his recent form, Lillard could come out on top.
In his last outing against the Brooklyn Nets, Lillard recorded 32 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to help his team to a 128-109 win.
Meanwhile, his Portland Trail Blazers teammate, CJ McCollum, would partner Lillard on the backcourt in this hypothetical combined team. McCollum is the second-leading scorer for the Trail Blazers this season, averaging 22.9 points per game while shooting at 45.3% from the field.
Although the Boston Celtics have an amazing shooting guard, Marcus Smart's efficiency and productivity on the court are not comparable with that of McCollum.
Norman Powell, who recently joined the Portland Trail Blazers, is having a decent campaign so far. He has impacted the game in more ways than one for the Trail Blazers but does not make the cut for this list.
Powell misses out because Jaylen Brown is having the best season of his career. He is averaging 24.8 points, 1.3 steals, 5.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game this season. In the absence of Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker, he has stepped up for the Boston Celtics and kept their postseason hopes alive.
Meanwhile, it is a no-contest for the power forward position in this hypothetical combined lineup, as the Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum has had a greater impact for his team than the Portland Trail Blazers' Robert Covington. Tatum is the major producer for the Boston Celtics.
In his last outing against the San Antonio Spurs, Tatum dropped 60 points to lead his team to an overtime victory. The Spurs could not hold on to a 32-point lead, thanks to Tatum, who is averaging 26.4 points, 4.4 assists and 7.5 boards per game.
Both centers have had decent runs this season and are perfectly capable of stepping up when the need arises. However, Jusuf Nurkic is the big man in better form and is favored over Robert Williams.
Nurkic recorded a double-double (23 points and 11 rebounds) against the Brooklyn Nets in his last outing. He's averaging 10.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.