Celtics-Blazers preview: End of the road trip

Celtics-Blazers preview: End of the road trip
January 11, 2014, 1:45 pm
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As the questions to Jeff Green came one after another, the disappointment following another loss was evident on his face.

"I'm just frustrated; want to win so bad ..." Green said following a 99-97 loss at Golden State on Friday night. "We're right there. We got another game (tonight). We have to come with the same effort, same mentality to play."

And that may be the greatest challenge facing the Celtics now; trying to stay positive and upbeat in what has been an otherwise disappointing stretch of play that has them now riding a season-long seven game losing streak.

Despite the mounting losses, the Celtics continue to say all the right things when discussing their struggles.

"The morale has been great," said Boston's Jared Sullinger. "Lost seven straight and guys still fighting out there, guys still trying to make plays ... that's the beauty of this team. Once we catch our run, we're going to make a long one."

The way Boston has played in its last two games gives them hope that this losing skid will end soon.

Even Boston's Gerald Wallace, who has questioned the Celtics' effort and competitive drive on more than one occasion, seems content with what he has seen out of his fellow teammates lately.

"We gotta come out and compete and have pride in what we do," Wallace said. "The last two games we've had that. Hopefully the basketball gods will reward us and the ball starts to go our way."

Here are some other keys in tonight's game:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: This is the getaway game in what has been a disappointing trip for the Celtics. A win won't make this trip a success for Boston, but it would go far in soothing the wounds inflicted by the team's seven-game losing streak. And maybe just as important, it provides a much-needed confidence boost heading into a week's worth of games at the TD Garden beginning on Monday.

MATCHUP TO WATCH:  Jeff Green vs Nicolas Batum:

Jeff Green will be shooting for a third straight double-double which would be a career-first for him. It won't be easy against Batum, one of the most versatile wing players in the NBA whose play has been instrumental to the Blazers being one of the league's best teams this season.

PLAYER TO WATCH:  LaMarcus Aldridge is having an impressive season thus far, evident by him being named the Western Conference Player of the Week three times already. One of the best inside-out players in the NBA, Aldridge is averaging a double-double of 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

STAT TO TRACK: Defending the 3-point shot has been an issue of late for the Celtics. And it will once again be problematic tonight considering the Blazers average an NBA-best 10.3 made 3s per game and shoot 39.5 percent from 3-point range which is also tops in the league. Although the Celtics are the league's third-ranked 3-point defense, they are just 10th in the league in their last seven games - all losses. During that same span, the Celtics are giving up 7.3 made 3-pointers which ranks 16th in the league. For the season, opponents have averaged 6.2 made 3s which ranks third in the NBA.