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Trail Blazers, Celtics Look to Move Up

Portland, Boston Chasing Playoff Spots

All NBA games from here on out have massive playoff implications, and the Portland Trail Blazers-Boston Celtics game Sunday night fits the bill.

Both teams are on the cusp of the play-in tournament and would prefer to lock down sixth place or better in their respective conferences.

Jaylen Brown dunks Portland Trail Blazers at Boston Celtics Prediction
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFP

If you are betting on the game, the host Celtics are 1½-point favorites, with an over/under set at 234 points.

Let’s break down each team and make a pick for Sunday’s game, with action tipping off at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Threes and No D

The Portland Trail Blazers is currently in seventh place in the Western Conference at 35-28. The Trail Blazers have won three straight, with their most recent one a 128-109 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

Damian Lillard, as he’s done all season, led the team in scoring with 32 points. Lillard’s averaging 28.3 points and 7.5 assists.

CJ McCollum has been a solid second option since his return, scoring over 22 points per game.

As a team, Portland skews offensive, owners of a top-10 offense, and a bottom-five defense. The combination leads to plenty of high-scoring games, making the team a good target for overs.

On offense, the Blazers shoot threes, and then they shoot some more. They’re second in the NBA in threes made per game and last in points in the paint.

On defense, they are equally poor at stopping both forms of offense – an excellent defense to target for opposing player props.

The Blazers are 32-31 against the spread and 33-30 against over/under.

Balanced and Coming off History

The Boston Celtics are coming off what may prove to be a season-altering win. Down 32 points, the Celtics clawed their way back against San Antonio on Friday, forcing overtime and winning 143-140.

It was a historic night for Jayson Tatum, who tied the Boston record for points in a game with 60.

As it stands, the Celtics are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a 34-30 record. Boston has won two straight games.

Tatum leads the team in scoring, averaging 26.4 points to go along with 7.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists. Jaylen Brown is right behind him, averaging 24.8 points on 40% shooting from deep.

The Celtics have a solid balance on both ends, ranked 12th offensively and 10th defensively.

Boston prefers to do its scoring from deep, ranking 11th in the NBA in threes made per game. Its defense is better at defending the paint, allowing the fifth-least amount of points inside.

Defensively, the Celtics are far more susceptible to the outside shot, which may make life difficult against the Blazers shooters.

Boston is 30-33-1 ATS and 33-31 against over/unders.

Expect Plenty of Points

These teams last met on April 13 in Portland, a 116-115 win for Boston.

As a whole, this Celtics team ranks higher than Portland. Both offenses also have the advantage shooting the three, so expect plenty of threes made.

These teams combined for 32 threes when they last met, with Tatum, Brown, Lillard and Carmelo Anthony all having big games.

If you are betting on the game, the preferred pick here is to take the over at 234 points.

Both teams are playing well and have much on the line, so the 1½-point spread is right in line with what you’d expect from these teams.

It’s hard to ignore the comeback the Celtics just engineered and think that something special may be brewing in Boston.

Take the Celtics to win and cover this game at home Sunday night.

Pick: Boston Celtics -1½

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