Celtics-Trail Blazers takeaway: C survived fourth quarter wildly in Portland originally appeared nbc sports boston
The Boston Celtics looked more like their pre-All-Star break selves on Friday night in Portland.
It’s been a rocky stretch for Si, but his performance versus the Trail Blazers is one of his best since the calendar flipped in March. At least, it did for three and a half quarters.
Boston maintained a double-digit lead for most of the game, but their 21-point lead was reduced to eight in the fourth quarter. Blazers star Damian Lillard dropped 25 points in the frame to lead Portland’s spectacular comeback effort, but the Celtics held on for a 126–112 victory.
Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 34 points. Jaylen Brown scored 27 points of his own. Marcus Smart counts to 15.
Lillard finished with a game-high 41 points. Anfernie Simmons was the Trail Blazers’ second-highest scorer with 17.
With the win, the Celtics improved to 49–22 on the season. They will be looking to earn their third straight win when they visit the Utah Jazz on Saturday.
First off, here are our takeaways from Friday’s game in Portland.
Jayson Tatum compensates for shooting problems
Tatum is in the midst of a brutal shooting stretch. In his last three games, he’s just 4-for-29 from 3-point range. He was 2-for-11 from beyond the arc on Saturday night.
The four-time All-Star found other ways to dominate against the NBA’s worst defense. His nine free throws in the first quarter marked the most first quarter free throws in his career. He finished with 15 points in the frame and continued to hit the line.
Tatum was 16-for-18 from the charity stripe for the game, meaning nearly half of his 34 points came from free throws. He was 6-for-9 on shots inside the arc.
The Celtics hope to get Tatum’s shot back soon, but showed on Saturday that he doesn’t need to live until the third ball to be effective. The 25-year-old added 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals to his stat line.
big night for big men
Boston’s big players dominated from start to finish against Portland. started with giants Al Horford, who set the tone with a pair of 3s and is now shooting 26-for-43 from deep in March.
Horford also made a big difference as a playmaker as he enjoyed his first 10-assist game since 2019. He finished with 12 points (4-6 FG, 3-4 3PT), 10 assists and five rebounds.
Blake Griffin continues to be a force on the offensive glass, has been huge with Robert Williams III Outside. He pulled down six offensive boards and nine rebounds in his 14 minutes overall. Six of those rebounds (three offensive) came in the first quarter when he was all over the floor, sparking C. He maintained the same energy throughout the night.
Luke Cornet hasn’t been much of a factor for the C’s lately, but the 7-footer has certainly made his presence felt in Portland.
Cornet had nine of 11 points and four of five rebounds in the second quarter. He collected three offensive boards in his 18 minutes.
Overall, the Celtics dominated the offensive glass 18–8. They outscored the Trail Blazers 52–37.
Even with a lead of 15 or more points, the Celtics haven’t made it easy on themselves this season. That was the case again on Saturday as they cut a 21-point lead to eight in the fourth quarter.
Damian Lillard was the man responsible for Boston’s latest late-game scare. The seven-time All-Star was held in check for three quarters but exploded for 25 points in the final frame, including 18 in a row.
Fortunately for the Celtics, Lillard could not overcome the deficit on his own. Marcus Smart’s clutch steal of nearly two minutes in to stop Portland’s momentum and helped put the game on ice.
The last game has not been strong for the Celtics. And while they escaped victory this time, it still looks like the double digit lead is not secure. This is one area where he needs to improve post season.