Celtics back in win column as Boston defeats Portland 115-93

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The Boston Celtics got back to their winning ways Wednesday night, defeating the visiting Portland Trail Blazers 115-93. Boston now moves to 46-21 on the season, but perhaps more importantly, can turn the corner on what was a short but dramatic losing skid.

Jayson Tatum led the way for the Celts, dropping 30 points to go along with 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal. He wasn’t the only one in green who had it going on, however. In total, six Celtics players scored in double figures. The home team was particularly good from deep — Boston shot 18-for-49 from 3 on the evening.

With a long road trip on deck, this is a welcome result for the Celtics. Not only can Boston breath a sigh of relief, but with the top seed in the East now far from guaranteed, every win counts from here on out. Here’s what you may have missed from the Celtics win over the Trail Blazers.

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This was not a defensive battle

The Trail Blazers came into tonight’s game with one of the worst ranked defenses in the NBA. Throw in a litany of injuries to the Blazers depth chart, and the visiting team was never going to put together an inspiring defensive performance. The Celtics offense took full advantage of the opportunity.

Scoring came easy and often for the Celtics. As a team, Boston shot 47.7% from the field. Importantly, this included 26 assists on 42 made baskets, a key metric for this club.

Boston’s own defense looked pretty good. Where the Blazers struggle on defense, they usually excel on the offensive end. To his credit, Damian Lillard finished the game with 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists. Outside of Lillard, however, the Celtics were more than comfortable in limiting Portland’s scoring.

It’s just the Al Horford of it all

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Al Horford was once again a crucial piece for the Celtics Wednesday night. His unique blend of cerebral defense and offensive finesse is an excellent compliment to Boston’s high octane scoring approach and switch-happy defensive scheme. Robert Williams’ recent hamstring injury has turned up the heat on this dynamic considerably.

Horford served as the main defensive anchor in Boston’s drop coverage against the Blazers, something he often does when he’s the lone big man on the floor. Because Horford is so reliable, the other Celtics defenders can risk playing the perimeter tighter, usually to great effect.

On the other side of the ball, the former Florida Gator is just as important. His 3-point shooting is excellent, and Horford is shooting a blistering 45.1%  from deep this year. But as was the case tonight, Horford’s ability to work down low and his tremendous passing gives Boston a critical inside-out offensive weapon. The big man ended the night with 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.

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Buckle up, y’all

Tonight’s win doesn’t just help Boston distance itself from what was a very disappointing three-game losing streak. The victory also puts a little wind in the team’s sails as it heads out on the road. The Celtics will play their next six games away from home, tied for the longest such streak this season. (This includes a rematch against the Blazers on St. Patrick’s Day.)

Boston is 20-12 on the road this season. This is group that seems perfectly comfortable as the visitor in enemy territory. But any sort of momentum going into such a long stretch certainly helps.

Listen to the “Celtics Lab” podcast on:

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3zBKQY6

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3GfUPFi

YouTube: https://bit.ly/3F9DvjQ

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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire

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