This one did not require overtime.
The Boston Celtics defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 115-93, snapping their three-game losing streak. After the team’s recent struggles on offense and in the clutch, this was a much needed blowout win before the upcoming six-game road trip.
Jayson Tatum played one of his best offensive game since the All-Star break, going for 30 points in 31 minutes on 64.7% shooting and 60% from three. Derrick White and Al Horford also had major contributions, putting up 21 and 17 points respectively.
The team as a whole zipped the ball around with greater consistency, leading to less stagnation and more catch and shoot looks from three. They also made a clear effort to run in transition, getting to the basket with ease. The Blazers defense could not find an answer to anything the Celtics were doing, allowing open shots all night by biting on fakes and overcommitting in the paint.
“I thought we maintained our poise,” said Joe Mazzulla. “We controlled the game with our transition defense, and we fought to get a great look every time.”
The Celtics didn’t shoot lights out, going cold at the end of the first half and missing a number of layups — something Mazzulla highlighted to the press following the game. He credited the defense as the key for securing the win.
Joe Mazzulla has a question for the #Celtics media 🤣
Full Postgame Interview: https://t.co/uZBiV8RtJe
⚡️by @HelloFresh & @AthleticGreens pic.twitter.com/rB7snDwhwa
— Celtics on CLNS (@CelticsCLNS) March 9, 2023
“I thought our shot profile was really good,” said Mazzulla, “I thought on that stretch where we didn’t shoot the ball well, we continued to guard, and I thought when we missed layups, we did a decent job of sprinting back in transition.”
The game wasn’t out of reach until the Celtics big third quarter, but Portland looked dead from the start. Absolutely no one had it going besides Damian Lillard, who posted a subpar stat line (for his standards) of 27 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds. He spent much of the first half trying to get teammates going, but they couldn’t establish any sense of rhythm, dooming their chances against a motivated Boston team.
The Celtics will travel to Atlanta next, hoping to establish some positive momentum after a rough last week. They will take on the Hawks on Saturday night.