Celtics-Trail Blazers Preview
At 5-foot-9, Nate Robinson needs every bit of the jumping ability he brings to the Boston Celtics. In Marcus Camby's case, the Portland Trail Blazers were clearly looking for a player with a little more size.
With Robinson perhaps set to make his debut, the Celtics come off a win over the Western Conference's top team to face the Trail Blazers and their newest acquisition Friday night at the Rose Garden.
Boston (34-18) got away with another subpar offensive game, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 87-86 on Thursday night. Ray Allen scored 12 of his 24 points in the third quarter against a Lakers team that was without injured star Kobe Bryant.
The Celtics, who were held under 90 points for the third time in four games, are hoping their new guard can provide a boost. Boston received Robinson and Marcus Landry in a trade with New York on Wednesday, giving up Eddie House, J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker and a future conditional second-round pick.
Robinson is a three-time slam dunk champion and was a fan favorite in New York, but he fell out of favor with Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni earlier this season, being benched for 14 straight games in December.
He gives the Celtics a spark off the bench, capable of performances such as his 41-point effort against Atlanta on Jan. 1. Robinson is averaging 13.2 points after posting a career-high 17.2 in 2008-09, when he scored at least 30 nine times.
"Nate is one of the great athletes in the league and he brings a dynamic scorer to our team," said Danny Ainge, the Celtics' president of basketball operations. "We have been seeking a second ball handler capable of penetrating the defense, and we believe that he provides that. We love Nate's ability to pressure the ball defensively and we think he can add to our defense as well."
With Camby, Portland (32-24) has one of the league's top defenders. Camby is expected to make his Blazers debut Friday, giving them a much-needed post presence.
Looking to fill the void left by Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla - who are both out for the season due to knee injuries - Portland acquired Camby from the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday in exchange for Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw.
The 6-foot-11 Camby, a 14-year veteran, is averaging 12.1 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.4 steals.
"I think it's a great situation for myself," he said. "It's a first-class organization that really takes care of their own. I'm really excited to be here."
Camby was the defensive player of the year for the 2006-07 season and is a two-time member of the NBA all-defensive team. Camby said he's looking forward to playing again with Portland point guard Andre Miller, his teammate on three playoff teams with Denver from 2003-05.
"I love to play with Andre Miller because he is so unselfish," Camby said.
Miller, though, may be without his backcourt mate, Brandon Roy, who is questionable for this game because of a hamstring injury. After missing 15 of the previous 16 games, Roy tried to play against the Clippers on Tuesday night, but he ended up sitting out the second half of the Blazers' 109-87 victory.
Roy is averaging a team-high 22.6 points. His injury caused him to miss Portland's 98-95 overtime loss to Boston on Jan. 22. Allen hit a 3-pointer with 42 seconds left in OT, giving the Celtics eight wins in their last nine matchups with the Blazers.