|1.5 POR (-120) @ Betvictor|
My 9* Late-Breaker is on the Por Blazers at 7:40 ET.
The 35-28 Portland Trail Blazers and the 34-30 Boston Celtics square off Sunday at TD Garden. The Blazers have made the playoffs SEVEN years in a row but still have work to do to make in EIGHT in a row. Portland was 30-19 but then lost NINE of its next 11 from April 6-25 (including FIVE in a row), before winning THREE in a row. Portland is currently the West's No. 7 but sits just ONE game back of both Dallas and the :LA Lakers. Down the stretch, ONE of these three teams will be regulated to the 7-10 "Play-In" tournament.
The Boston Celtics were expected to be among the East's elite teams this season but after an 8-3 start, Boston found itself just 23-25 thru March 31. Boston did win EIGHT of nine to open April but the Celtics lost FOUR of their next five, before winning 120-11 at home over the Hornets on Wednesday and rallied from a 29-point deficit at halftime to edge the Spurs 143-140 (OT) at home on Friday. Boston is currently the East's No. 6 seed (but only because it owns a tie-breaker over Miami), although the good news is that the Celtics (and Heat) are only 1 1/2-games back of the East's No. 4 seed (last home court edge in Round 1).
The Blazers are led by the dynamic backcourt duo of Lillard (28.3-4.2-7.5) and McCollum (22.9-4.1-4.7) plus Powell has been excellent since coming from Toronto in a trade (has averaged 16.8 PPG in his 19 games as a Blazer. The ageless Anthony (13.6) has been steady off the bench plus with Nurkic back healthy, Portland has two quality centers. Kanter averages 11.7 & 11.4 and Nurkic 10.9 & 8.5. Offseason acquisitions PF Covington (8.7 & 6.8) and SF Jones (7.0 & 3.7) have been solid.
The Boston duo of Tatum (26.4-7.5-4.4) and Brown (24.8-5.9-3.4) has been terrific, with Tatum coming off a 60-point game on Friday (tied Larry Bird for a Boston single-game record). However, PG Kemba Walker (18.2 points per game) has been sidelined the last three games due to an oblique injury, putting a lot of pressure on Smart (13.6 & 5.6 APG). Getting back to Tatum, he scored 32 points at Portland back on April 13, as the Celtics won 116-115.
That contest came during a stretch in which Portland lost NINE of 11, with FOUR of the losses coming by either one or two points. Portland seeks revenge for that loss, coming in off three straight wins in which the team has averaged 130.3 PPG. Portland is the play.
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