5 takeaways as Celtics retain Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard


“The game will never be perfect.”

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum heads for the basket against Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe and forward Cam Reddish. AP Photo/Steve Dykes

The Celtics hinted at a slump on Friday against the Trail Blazers, but they found timely baskets in the streak and cruised to a 126-112 win.

Here are the takeaways as the Celtics improved to 3-1 on their road trip.

1. Jayson Tatum didn’t necessarily come out of his shooting slump (2 for 11 from 3-point range), but part of a Celtics offense that revived with ball movement and spacing , he was efficient and very productive again – 34 points on an 8-for-20 shot.

Tatum was the most dangerous coming to the rim, where he shot 5 for 6 from the restricted area, and he went 14 for 16 from the free throw line. Sometimes a stat line doesn’t tell the whole story, but sometimes it does – Tatum was great when he went to the edge, and less so when he shot deep.

“Honestly, I think it’s as simple as that, just being aggressive,” Tatum said. “I had a few flights, I transitioned out, and it kind of got me off early.”

2. Damian Lillard nearly brought the Blazers back from the brink, and Celtics fans might understandably have started to tense as they watched another fourth-quarter lead start to dwindle. With 9:20 remaining in the fourth, after Marcus Smart went 2 for 3 from the free throw line, Lillard came back into the game with the Celtics leading 98-80.

Over the next seven minutes, Lillard pared the Celtics’ big lead with a barrage of baskets – scoring 23 of his 41 points during that streak. With 2:22 remaining, the Blazers trailed 113-105 and had the ball after Tatum committed an offensive foul.

Luckily for the Celtics, Friday was just a “good” Damian Lillard game — not transcendent. With 2:13 remaining, Lillard returned the ball (more on that in a minute), which resulted in a Jaylen Brown dunk. Al Horford buried a 3-pointer on the next possession, Tatum converted a one-and-one, and the Celtics regained control.

The Celtics as a whole were happy with their response.

“The game will never be perfect,” Tatum said. “It’s the NBA, they’re going to run errands. And like I tell you all the time, it’s just how you react. In the games we win, we usually respond. In a few games we lose , it’s kind of a snowball effect, and sometimes it’s hard to get over that.

“Lady is gone”, Smart added. “We were still able to keep our cool and react.”

Friday’s mini-collapse had a justifiable reason – Damian Lillard is one of the deadliest goalscorers in recent memory.

But the Celtics never really stopped playing well on Friday — Lillard just couldn’t complete an absurd comeback in time on his own. If we’re picky (and head coach Joe Mazzulla is the one who always likes to talk about margins), it would be nice to see the Celtics find a way to get out of dives that are also less justifiable and win a game. after that it snowballs on them for a while.

3. Smart may have saved the Celtics from nail-biting. Defending Lillard with as small a lead as it had been in the fourth quarter, he stepped into space for the Blazer star and gave him very little room to operate or get shot. When Lillard tried to put the ball on the ground, he dribbled it past Smart’s knee and both players dove to the ground. Predictably, Smart invented it and found a way to shovel it at Al Horford. The result was Jaylen Brown’s dunk.

If you ever wonder why Smart is in the game even though other players are better at floor spacing, this 12 second clip has your answer.

“‘Do not let [Lillard] shoot it,” Smart said, when asked what he was thinking at the time. “He was making shots and hitting hard. He was shooting the ball very quickly and he was doing what he was doing. He was making contact and getting to the free throw line as well, so for me on this play it was really just to make it as difficult as possible.

Smart told reporters he felt sick in the morning and vomited before shooting, but his condition improved as the day progressed.

“I felt a little better, enough to play,” Smart said. “And we just tried to – whatever I could give, go ahead and give it.”

Smart finished with 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting with six assists and four steals.

4. Al Horford missed a triple-double by just one category, totaling 12 points and 10 assists. It was only the eighth time in his career that he exceeded double-digit assists.

Horford is yet to play in a straight this season, but he played just 26 minutes on Saturday. He told reporters he expects to be available Saturday against the Jazz.

5. The Celtics will see some familiar faces in Utah. Assistant coach Will Hardy, who joined the Celtics under Ime Udoka last year, left the team this offseason before Udoka was suspended to coach the Jazz.

Tatum, who had a relationship with Hardy that dates back to Team USA, wasn’t exactly surprised.

“I knew it was only a matter of time before he became head coach,” Tatum said. “He has a great way of connecting with guys. He’s still young, so he can connect with the guys on the team in a special way, but he really knows how to coach, and Utah had a relatively good year, but from the start I always knew that it was only a matter of time until he left us and got his own chance.

If Danny Ainge doesn’t attend March Madness, the Celtics could also see their former president of basketball operations, who is now an executive for the Jazz. Tatum harbors friendly feelings for the man who drafted it.

“We will always have a great relationship,” Tatum said. “I am very grateful to him. Basically, I took a chance on a 19-year-old kid. Drafted me and made my dream come true, so I’ll always be grateful for that, wherever I am, wherever he is, I’ll always remember him that way. He was the one who kind of made the decision that helped me achieve my dream.

The Celtics play the Jazz at 9 p.m. EST.

const onetrustStorageConsent = JSON.parse(localStorage.getItem( 'consent_one_trust_bdc' ) ); /* Checking to see if the user has consented to the use of cookies. * If they have not, it is deleting the cookie. * This will comment for now, until further notice. *///if ( onetrustStorageConsent.C0002 === false ) { //document.cookie="_fbp=;expires=Thu, 01 Jan 2010 00:00:00 UTC; path=/;"; //} /* Checking if the user has given consent for the cookie C0002. * If the user has given consent, the variable consent will be set to 'grant'. * If the user has not given consent,the variable consent will be set to 'revoke'. * Documentation */if ( ( onetrustStorageConsent !== null ) && (onetrustStorageConsent.C0002 !== true ) ) { consent="revoke"; }

!function(f,b,e,v,n,t,s){if(f.fbq)return;n=f.fbq=function() {n.callMethod? n.callMethod.apply(n,arguments):n.queue.push(arguments)} ;if(!f._fbq)f._fbq=n; n.push=n;n.loaded=!0;n.version='2.0';n.queue=[];t=b.createElement(e);t.async=!0; t.src=v;s=b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window, document,'script',''); fbq('consent', consent); fbq('init', '813236348753005'); fbq('track', "PageView");


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button