The Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics are both dealing with multiple injuries as they head into the Garden on Friday.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Boston Celtics
Friday, January 21, 2022 – 07:30 PM EST at TD Garden
Boston’s Emerging Defense
The Boston Celtics have always played pretty good defense. Whether it shows up regularly or not is another story but, lately, things have been starting to improve on that end of the court, though their offense is also falling off a cliff.
A lot of it has to do with being healthy, which they still aren’t considering Marcus Smart is listed questionable tonight. Smart has missed the last five games for the C’s and if he is able to come back tonight, that will only bolster the Boston defense more.
Another aspect of their defense being better is Al Horford and Robert Williams both being healthy. The twin towers starting lineup has holes, but they excel against smaller teams without the ability to stretch the floor easily, much like the Blazers.
Portland’s only real injury question mark tonight is Nassir Little, who got knocked out of their game Wednesday in Miami and is officially questionable. Norm Powell is also still out for Portland.
The Sharp Analysis
With Damian Lillard out for the near future, this Blazers’ offense may struggle against the resurgent Celtics’ defense, especially in TD Garden.
So far at home this season, the Celtics rank sixth in home defensive rating (DRtg) allowing 106.3 points per 100 possessions. It gets even better in their home first halves, as they allow opponents to score just 104.3 points per 100 possessions.
Combine this with their own struggles to score in the first half and fading both these offenses and buying their defenses in the first half is the play. While the full game total is a respectable 212 points, the first half of 109 still has great value with the under.
Boston ranks 24th in first-half offense at home and Portland is 19th in road first-half offense, which included Lillard for most of those games.
While Anfernee Simons has been playing great and C.J. McCollum is back in the lineup, being without Powell and Lillard makes the Blazers a lot easier to guard for Boston, especially if Smart plays.
Boston has some great wing and guard defenders to throw at those two guys and considering how bad Boston’s first-half offense has looked lately, I think the books are spotting us one or two too many points for this first-half number.
The Sharp Pick
Boston is averaging just 96.6 points per 100 possessions in their last five first halves on offense. While Portland is well below average defensively, there is still enough room for a play on the under if this one gets out to a slower start and Boston continues to struggle.
If Little is able to play, the Blazers have two credible defenders in him and Robert Covington to throw at Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. I think that will be enough for them in this game, or at least the first half.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.