The Celtics made the long cross country journey to the Rose Garden and pulled off an ugly 88-78 win over the Portland Traillazers.
The Blazers put the pressure on the Celtics forcing them to play a more uptempo style, a style not ideally suited for the aging Celtic club. However, you cannot win games if you do not make shots. The Trailblazers outshot the Celtics 90-64, but shot only 36% from the field, compared to 47% for the C’s, and started the fourth quarter by making only two of their first twelve shots.
The Blazers would eventually hit five consecutive shots during the fourth, but it was a little too late as the experience of the Celtics and their ability to hit timely free throws eventually won out.
Kevin Garnett led the way for the Celtics with 10 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists. Ray Allen led all scorers with 18 points and Kendrick Perkins once again provided a spark off the bench by scoring 10 points and grabbing 9 rebounds in only 21 minutes of game action.
Kendrick Perkins’ return from injury could not have come at a better time. The Celtics are on arguably one of their toughest stretch of games this season and needed a boost in the worst way. The front court has been riddled with injuries this season and the return of Perkins has energized the Celtics at an important time. The Celtics are last in the NBA in rebounding averaging 38.4 rebounds per game. The return of Perkins should help this area of need considerably since the difference between last place and the top 10 in rebounding is just 4 rebounds per game.
Paul Pierce is the latest injury casualty nursing a bruised thigh making him questionable for tonight’s game in Phoenix. Based on previous experience, unless his leg falls off, we’d expect him to start and score at least 15 points.
The Celtics proved once again that they are built to win a championship. Championship clubs have the abilty to win games in bunches and can overcome turning the ball over a season high 21 times like they did tonight and still win the game.
The real question is if they can keep the momentum going into Phoenix tonight and then onto LA for a Sunday rematch of the NBA finals.