Celtics

BSJ Game Report: Blazers 100, Celtics 94 — C’s comeback falls short to cap 1-4 trip

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Everything you need to know about the Trail Blazers beating the Celtics 100-94 with BSJ insight and analysis.

Box Score 

HEADLINES

Slow start dooms Celtics again: For the third time on the C's five-game road trip, they fell behind by 19-plus points in the first half, thanks to a mix of lackluster shot selection and subpar defense against the Blazers' pick-and-roll attack from Damian Lillard (18 points, 12 assists) and Jusuf Nurkic (19 points, 15 rebounds). The C's offense finally woke up in the second half behind the hot shooting of Jayson Tatum (season-high 27 points) and some timely offense from the bench unit, which helped erase a 22-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter. Ultimately, too much hero ball from Kyrie Irving (9-of-24 from field) and some timely shooting from the Blazers late helped them close out the game with 12-6 run and take home the 100-94 victory. 

A miserable road trip leaves more questions than answers: The setback left Boston heading home with a 1-4 overall road trip that could have been far worse had it not been for a miraculous late-game comeback in Phoenix on Thursday night. The inconsistency has been rampant for this group on both ends at various stages of each game this year, and that proved true yet again on Sunday night. Brad Stevens hasn't found many lineups and players he can rely on right now so it's going to be an interesting couple of days as he ponders which adjustments to make to his rotation, which is back at full strength now with the recovery of Daniel Theis (foot).

TURNING POINT

Al Farouq Aminu fueled a game-closing 8-3 run by the Blazers with a pair of 3-point shots from the wing off of dishes from Damian Lillard. Gordon Hayward helped too far off Aminu on both possessions in hopes of cutting off dribble penetration and Aminu made the C's pay by knocking down the open looks and stretching out the Blazers' lead down the stretch.

TWO UP

Jayson Tatum: The second-year forward built on the momentum of his big night in Utah on Friday by tying a career-high with 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting in the loss. He scored 12 of those points in the third quarter, hitting four consecutive 3-pointers at one point to help Boston erase a large chunk of Portland's double-digit deficit.

Daniel Theis: After being sidelined indefinitely a couple weeks ago with a torn muscle in his foot, the German center made a surprise return to the floor on Sunday night well ahead of the anticipated recovery timetable. He only played eight minutes but was on the floor with Morris/Hayward/Rozier/Brown as that lineup started the fourth quarter with a 12-3 run that helped the C's tie up the game. Theis was solid on defense and with his screen setting in limited minutes.

TWO DOWN

Al Horford: The shooting woes continued for the big man on Sunday night, as he went 0-of-5 from 3-point range on the way to a 4-of-14 night overall. The ugly output brought his shooting percentage from downtown to just 27.6 percent on the season, which is well over a 15 percent dropoff from his average last season. 

Kyrie Irving: Some ugly defense in the first half of this contest against Damian Lillard allowed the Blazers pick-and-roll attack to get rolling, leading to countless easy buckets for Nurkic down low. Irving improved in this area in the second half but played far too much hero ball down the stretch, going 2-of-7 from the field despite playing just five minutes in the fourth quarter. His forced pull-up jumpers did not go down, capping a lackluster 9-of-24 shooting night from the field.

TOP PLAY

TWO TAKES B-ROBB WILL PROBABLY REGRET LATER

Gordon Hayward probably played a little too much tonight: The former All-Star played a season-high 31 minutes in the setback and looked good at various parts, particularly when running the offense of the second unit. However, Stevens went back to him during crunch time late and he got caught a couple times sucking in too much on Aminu, who drilled a pair of open 3s. It's encouraging that Hayward is able to handle a bigger load right now but it's unclear right now whether he's playing at a level where he should be seeing crunch time minutes.

It might be time to protect Al Horford a little more: He does not look like himself on the defensive end right now while manning the middle and that's not a good sign 13 games into a long regular season grind. Brad Stevens has a pair of very capable centers behind him in Aron Baynes and Daniel Theis who combined to play just 17 minutes tonight. Given the struggles the team is having while going small, it might be time to consider playing Horford at the four more to protect the wear and tear for Horford and shore up the team's defense and rebounding.