The Boston Celtics have been struggling lately, marked by lazy play and the inability to hold a lead. With just a few short weeks left until the playoffs, they need to be at the top of their game, and their current two-game win streak might be the boost they need to get back on track.
They took on the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, fending off a crazy Damian Lillard run. The Trail Blazers star came alive in the fourth quarter and almost led Portland to a comeback win over Boston. But the Celtics maintained their lead, and after the game, Jayson Tatum explained how they did it, shouting out Jaylen Brown and a couple of his other teammates in the process.
“I got that and-one. JB got a key layup,” Tatum said via NBC Sports Boston. “Al [Horford] hit some big threes. [Marcus] Smart got that steal. Just made some big plays, right? Got some big rebounds. So, we just responded, essentially.”
Despite not shooting the ball particularly well, Tatum made his impact felt against the Trail Blazers. The Celtics star finished the night with 34 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, and three steals on 8-of-20 shooting from the field and 2-of-11 shooting from behind the three-point line.
Meanwhile, Brown played fairly well. He dropped 27 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two steals on 12-of-23 shooting from the floor and 2-of-6 shooting from distance.
As for Lillard, he dropped 25 points in the fourth quarter alone. He ended the game with 41 points, four rebounds, and five assists on 12-of-23 shooting from the field and 6-of-15 shooting from behind the three-point line.
Marcus Smart Name-Drops Damian Lillard
In addition, after the game, Smart talked about how the Celtics were able to deal with Lillard’s hot stretch in the fourth and grind out a win.
“For us, it’s just moving on to the next play,” Smart said via NBC Sports Boston. “We got to have that short-term memory on both ends of the floor. I think a lot of times, we allow, because we didn’t make shots, [opponents’ made shots] to affect our defense. And then because our defense was lacking, we try to come and force another shot. Just having that short-term memory. If you’re open, shoot the ball. If you miss it, oh well, next play. You shoot it again, you get an open shot, you knock it down. And once we start thinking like that, I think that kind of took away a lot of the mishaps that we’ve been having. Those little walls where it just seems like we couldn’t score the ball nor get to stop. And like you said, Dame went off. We still were able to keep our poise and respond.”
Jaylen Brown Discusses Celtics’ Struggles
Before their current two-game win streak, the Celtics lost to the Houston Rockets. After the game, Brown spoke about some of the issues that have been plaguing the Celtics as of late.
“Taking care of the little things,” Brown said via NBC Sports Boston. “Execution. We lost tonight, not really on execution, but lack of effort, not doing our job, the hard stuff, the little stuff is what adds up. The offensive rebounds and loose balls, turnovers. We didn’t deserve to win today.”