Portland Trail Blazers vs Boston Celtics 1/21/22: Starting Lineups, Matchup Preview, Betting Odds, Live Stream

Portland Trail Blazers vs Boston Celtics Matchup Preview (1/21/22)

The Boston Celtics (23-23) host the Portland Trail Blazers (18-26) Friday night in a cross conference battle. The Blazers have been treading water since superstar Damian Lillard had surgery. They have been without Lillard for the last nine games and own a decent record of 5-4, including wins over the Hawks, Nets, and Wizards. As of right now, they sit as the 10th seed with a small cushion over the Kings, Spurs, and Pelicans. While they are holding steady at the moment, it is a long time until Lillard can get back on the court – a matter of months, not weeks. The Blazers are coming off a 104-92 loss to the red-hot Miami Heat, but the Blazers were forced to play without Larry Nance Jr and Norman Powell. In this matchup, Larry Nance Jr, Norman Powell, and Cody Zeller are all out. Nassir Little, who hurt his knee last game, is a game time decision. CJ McCollum and Anfernee Simons will continue to carry the brunt of the offensive load in this one. The team will look to get back on track against a Celtics team that has picked up their level of play. 

The Celtics are winners of 5 of their last 7 games with wins over the Knicks, Pacers (twice), Bulls, and Pelicans. They will hope to rebound off a 111-102 loss to the Hornets. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined to shoot 14/39 (35.8%) from the field and 2/18 (11.1%) from three. Tatum and Brown are great players individually, but they can never seem to dominate the game at the same time. The Celtics’ optimization of their stars is the key moving forward. They can assemble a new supporting cast, but the weight of their title hopes lies on Tatum and Brown’s shoulders. Aaron Nesmith, Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams are all game time decisions. Without Robert Williams, the Celtics will once again start forward Grant Williams in his place, while Dennis Schroder would remain in Smart’s starter role if Smart cannot play. 

Portland Trail Blazers vs Boston Celtics Betting Odds

The Celtics defeated the Blazers 145-117 in their only previous matchup on December 4th. Dennis Schroder torched the Blazers for 31 points, 4 rebounds and 8 assists, while Tatum poured in another 31 points. Lillard, Simons, Little, Horford, and Jaylen Brown all did not play in that game, so it is hard to extrapolate from that result. For this game, I am going with the Celtics moneyline. The Celtics are healthier than the Blazers while having the two best players in the matchup. Without Norman Powell and Larry Nance Jr, I do not see the Blazers thin roster keeping up with the Celtics. The current spread is -7.5 Celtics, and I would bet on the Celtics to cover. McCollum and Simons will be a handful for the Celtics, especially if Smart does not play. However, Tatum and Brown can match those two, and the rest of the Celtics are simply more talented than the rest of the Blazers. 

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TV Schedule

Date: 1/21/22
Time: 7:30 PM ET
Arena: TD Garden – Boston, MA
Channel: BSSE, NBA League Pass

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Portland Trail Blazers Starting Lineup

PG: Anfernee Simons
SG: CJ McCollum
SF: Nassir Little
PF: Robert Covington
C: Jusuf Nurkic

Portland Trail Blazers Analysis

The Blazers are seemingly never healthy at the same time. First McCollum went down, then Lillard got hurt after McCollum returned. Jusuf Nurkic has had untimely injuries in the last few years. Their actual depth chart certainly resembles a playoff team, but they can never put it together, whether it is because of injuries, subpar play at inopportune moments, or simply better teams beating them. The silver lining of Lillard’s injury is the emergence of 22-year-old guard Anfernee Simons. In the Blazers first game without Lillard on January 3rd, Simons obliterated the Hawks with 43 points, 7 assists, and 3 rebounds. Over his last eight games since assuming a starting role, he has averaged 26.3 PPG, 7.9 APG, 2.6 RPG on a 49/42/90 shooting split. 

Along with Simons, the Blazers have seen 21-year-old forward Nassir Little develop into a legitimate two-way threat. Little is 6’5” and 220 pounds with the strength to guard larger forwards and the anticipation to stifle guards. Little’s offensive arsenal experienced serious growth this season. His inconsistent shot holds him back at times, but his shooting stroke is smooth enough where he should turn into an average shooter. The Blazers have had a rocky season, but the development of Simons and Little is worth it.   

Boston Celtics Starting Lineup

PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Robert Williams
C: Al Horford

Boston Celtics Analysis

Have the Celtics finally found their groove? Tatum and Brown are playing better as of late. Off-season addition Dennis Schroder has scored 20+ points in 3 of his last 5 games. Injuries caused the starting lineup and bench to shuffle constantly the last two months, but they are finally getting healthy again. Marcus Smart is a game time decision for this matchup. The Celtics need his defensive skills on the court, since they are facing an electric duo of McCollum and Simons. 

In the Blazers last game against the Heat, Simons and McCollum combined for 51 points, 6 rebounds, and 11 assists on 19/38 (50%) from the field and 10/23 (43%) from deep. The amount of pressure from their shots – both off the dribble and spot up – is in essence an onslaught on the opponent. Marcus Smart is a great perimeter defender who can use his size and quick hands to slow down the attack. Josh Richardson, another good perimeter defender, may see more time in this game trying to stop the Blazers duo. He has revived his offense and shot this year coming off the bench to the tune of 10.1 PPG on 44.5 FG% and 40.7 3PT%. 

Portland Trail Blazers vs Boston Celtics Daily Fantasy Picks

I have to pick Anfernee Simons right now. In addition to his scoring outburst, Simons has managed to find open teammates and rack up assists. The Blazers are feeding him touches, and it should not stop in this game. Look for Simons to clear 25+ points and 7+ assists. Another player I would pick is Dennis Schroder. If Smart does not play, Schroder will be the starter again. Even if Smart plays, though, Schroder will see a ton of minutes. Simons and McCollum are both not great defenders. Like their last matchup, where Schroder scored 31 points, look for him to score 20+ again in this game. His price tag will be much cheaper than that of Simons; Schroder is a bargain considering his potential output in this one. 

I am currently a junior at University of Pennsylvania majoring in Psychology. I have spent the last few years working with various UPenn athletics teams and contributing to the UPenn Sports Analytics Group. My primary interests reside in NBA, NFL, and College Football.

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