Wednesday is a busy night in the NBA with 11 games on the board and we’ll take a look at an interconference matchup between the Boston Celtics and Portland Trailblazers. Boston finished second in the Eastern Conference last year with a 55-27 record which was 4 games back of the first place Toronto Raptors. The expectation was that they’d be back in the hunt for top honors in the East this yer but it hasn’t quite worked out that way. The Celtics got off to a slow start to the season and were decidedly ordinary for much of the first half. As late as December 1, 2018 they were 12-10 and in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Boston’s form has improved but they haven’t made too much progress since early December. They’re up to 5th place and have a six game advantage over the 6th place Brooklyn Nets but they’re still a good distance away from the conference leaders. They’re 9 game back of East leading Milwaukee, 6.5 games back of second place Toronto (pending the outcome of Tuesday’s Celtics-Raptors matchup) and 2.5 games back of third place Indiana. The Celtics’ record has improved to 37-23 SU/30-29-1 ATS and while they’re playing reasonably well at the moment they have one problem–the teams ahead of them are all playing better which makes it difficult for Boston to pick up any ground. Pending the results of Tuesday’s short NBA card first place Milwaukee is 9-1 L10, second place Toronto is 8-2 L10, third place Indiana is 8-2 L10. At least the Philadelphia 76ers are playing at a similar pace with an identical 6-4 L10 record to that held by Boston. One big issue for the Celtics has been their substandard play on the road. Last season, Boston went 28-13 away from the TD Garden which was actually one game better than at home. This season, however, they are 14-15 SU/11-17-1 ATS away from home though still playing well on their own court with a 23-8 SU/19-12 ATS record.
The Portland Trailblazers also come into this matchup playing better basketball than the Celtics. The Blazers have won 4 straight games SU/ATS and are 3-0 so far on a 7 game East Coast swing with every win on the trip by 13+ points. Portland is on a 10-4 ATS run overall and have gone 7-3 SU in their last 10 games. They’re now 1.5 games back of the third place team in the West (Oklahoma City) and just 4.5 games back of second place Denver. They’re 6 games back of West leading Golden State. Portland has been enjoying extremely fortuitous scheduling on this road trip with no back to back games. They’ve got a game at Toronto on Friday but should be well rested there with just a 2 hour flight from Boston. They’ll then play at Charlotte on Sunday and Memphis on Tuesday. The two toughest tests on the road trip will be tonight’s game against the Celtics and Friday’s game against the Raptors.
Boston, however, is not as fortunate with their scheduling. This will be the second of back to back games for the Celtics and a very important matchup last night at Toronto could make for something of a ‘letdown’ spot against a very dangerous team. Letdown spots have been tough for the Celtics of late–they played a hard fought game at Milwaukee last Thursday losing by 1 point and covering as +6.5 road underdogs. They played in Chicago on Saturday against a Bulls team that they’ve dominated this year and lost by 10 as -10.5 road favorites. This matchup is a similar setup only in a back to back spot with a rested and more dangerous foe waiting on the back end.
The Blazers have been very good against the Eastern Conference this year going 17-4 SU/16-5 ATS while Boston has struggled against the West with a record of 10-11 SU/8-13 ATS. Portland is a perfect 7-0 SU (5-2 ATS) against the Atlantic Division. In this matchup of two good teams we’ll take the one in better form plus the points.