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Jayson Tatum, Celtics waiting for road-tested Blazers

Sports & GeneralMay 01, 2021 03:55PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers 2/2

The streaking Portland Trail Blazers will hit the back stretch of a six-game road swing on Sunday when they face the Boston Celtics.

Portland (35-28) pulled out of a five-game tailspin to start its current road trip, winning each of the first three games - including a 128-109 rout of Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn on Friday.

Damian Lillard hit 8-of-13 3-pointers to match a season-high for made baskets from distance and finished with 32 points. Jusuf Nurkic posted his fourth double-double in Portland's last five games with 23 points and 11 rebounds.

"Our team is at that point where we're either going to fall apart or we're going to dig out, come together and get ourselves right," Lillard said. "We're showing some signs of going in the right direction."

The current winning streak started Tuesday at Indiana, then continued the next night in Memphis. The Trail Blazers' last three victories have come by an average of 20.3 points per game.

In its preceding five-game skid, Portland dropped all five games by no more than eight points, and three of them were by two points or fewer.

The Trail Blazers dropped seven of eight games overall before the current road trip, including an additional one-point loss. That came April 13 at home against Boston 116-115.

The Celtics (34-30) defeated the Trail Blazers during a six-game winning streak earlier this month, which helped boost them into the No. 6 spot in the East. The top six teams in each conference avoid the play-in tournament and automatically qualify for the playoffs.

Boston is just 3-4 since the streak but has won its last two games -- the most recent a 143-140 overtime decision at home over San Antonio on Friday when the Celtics rallied from a 29-point deficit at halftime in a game when they trailed by as many as 32.

Jayson Tatum tied Larry Bird's franchise record with 60 points in the victory.

"Anytime you're mentioned with a top-10 player of all time in any stat, obviously that is a good thing," Tatum said. "It's something I never I think would have imagined at this age."

Six times in April, the 23-year-old Tatum scored at least 32 points, the mark he hit against Portland on April 13. He finished with 53 points in an overtime win April 9 over Minnesota, and 44 points on April 17 against Golden State.

His 60-point effort marked the third time in his last four games played that Tatum notched at least 35 points. He hit a combined 16 3-pointers in those outings.

Jaylen Brown, who helped fuel Friday's comeback with four made 3-pointers en route to 17 points, scored 39 and 38 points in Boston's two previous outings. He followed his 24-point effort at Portland earlier this month with 40 points in a win over the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.

The Celtics' backcourt duo is averaging a combined 51.2 points per game for the season. They are carrying the load with Kemba Walker (18.2 points per game) sidelined the last three games due to an oblique injury.

The Celtics otherwise come into Sunday's matchup healthy. Portland is near full strength, too, missing only Zach Collins, who has missed this season after sustaining a season-ending stress fracture in his ankle in last August's play-in game against the Grizzlies.

--Field Level Media

Jayson Tatum, Celtics waiting for road-tested Blazers
 

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Silence Dogood
Silence Dogood May 01, 2021 10:14PM ET
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