The Portland Trail Blazers keep finding ways to win, as they beat the Boston Celtics 97-92 (box score) to win the first four games of their seven-game road trip. Both teams, clearly tired, fought down to the final minutes, but Portland held a lead for most of the night, and never gave it up. Here are a few key details.
Start Me Up. The Blazers’ bench depth was not on display tonight, as they combined for just 13 points in a forgettable appearance. However, with Portland scoring 97 points on 90 shots, there wasn’t much efficiency anywhere in the lineup. Damian Lillard still sliced through Boston’s defense for 33 points on 28 shots.
The Wall. Jusuf Nurkic held down the lane in the fourth as Boston attempted their last comeback. Twice he turned away shots at the rim, leaving Kyrie Irving dumbfounded and frustrated. Meanwhile, Moe Harkless picked up the defensive intensity, and Seth Curry helped make key defensive plays against the error-prone Celtics.
House Money. With 7 straight games around the East Coast, things looked bad for the Blazers. But they’ve already won their first four. Coach Terry Stotts said many of the Blazers got a week acclimating to Eastern Time during the All-Star Break, and it paid off in spades.
Imperfect Strangers. For the second time on the road trip, the Blazers played a team that didn’t seem to enjoy being on the court together. Much like in their stop in Philadelphia, Portland’s opponent made multiple missteps on defense, with little communication. Portland had multiple easy layups, dunks, and (often missed) three-point attempts while the Celtics ran around, then groused at each other afterward.
The Raptors actually seem to like each other, so Portland should have a big challenge Friday evening in Toronto.