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Friday, January 23, 2015

Do You Remember that the Celtics are Still a Thing?

Since they have made a million trades in the last few months and seemingly lost about every game in between, you are forgiven if like me you have totally tuned out the Celtics this miserable campaign. However, with the NHL All-Star break starting and over a week before Super Bowl 49, we were forced to turn our lonely eyes to the C's tonight as they visited the Blazers at Moda Center.

LaMarcus Aldridge is out for 6-8 weeks with torn ligaments in his thumb and Portland (31-13 overall, 19-5 home) clearly misses him as they lost a heartbreaker 90-89 to Boston (14-26 overall, 5-13 away) on Evan Turner's (10 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds) last-second three-pointer. Normally I would be mad at the C's for winning since that is totally irrelevant to their tanking cause this season but honestly, for once it was nice to be treated to a totally unexpected and exciting win against one of the best teams in the NBA.

Brandon Bass (13 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists) started for the first time in ages and made the most of it. Avery Bradley led the Celts with 18 points while Jared Sullinger added 17 points and nine rebounds. Old man Tayshaun Prince and Marcus Thornton each scored nine points off the bench for Boston. Did I mention this was their first road win against a Western Conference team since Nov. 2013? Haha how is that even possible?

Damian Lillard (21 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds) has quickly become one of the top players in the league but he struggled with his shot (8 for 23) against that vaunted Celtics defense. Free-Agent-to-be Wesley Matthews scored 18 points while caveman Chris Kaman had 13 points and nine rebounds. Former Brewster Academy star Thomas Robinson got the rare start in Aldridge's place (Sideshow Bob, I mean Robin Lopez was also out with an injury) and put up nine points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and two steals with C.J. McCollum scoring 10 points off Portland's bench.

Boston led 23-19 after the first quarter which was cute enough then it started to get a bit more real with a 44-42 halftime lead. Portland outscored the C's 30-23 in the third quarter so naturally, I thought well that's it. That's when the Celts proceeded to grind out a 23-17 fourth quarter. This result has to be especially gratifying for head coach Brad Stevens since it proves that his team is still playing hard and listening to him even though they have so little talent. Again, it's one game but this also shows positive traits about many of these players who are fighting for their NBA futures either here or somewhere else.

Portland came in with the best home record in the NBA but Boston shot 45.3% from the field and held them to 37.1%. The Celtics grabbed two more rebounds (47-45) and dished out seven more assists (23-16).

This was the beginning of an insane four games in five nights stretch for Boston. Their season-long six-game road trip started with a loss to the Clippers on Monday (102-93) and it continues tomorrow (9, CSN) in Denver (18-24 overall, 3rd in Northwest Division). From there, the Celtics go to Golden State on Sunday (8, CSN), Utah on Monday (9, CSN) and they wrap things up on Wednesday in Minnesota (8, CSN).

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