Stars, studs and duds: Celtics defense lets Blazers off the hook

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics defense lets Blazers off the hook

There’s no way to look at Thursday’s 116-109 loss at Portland as anything other than a winnable game that the Boston Celtics let get away.

They had the Blazers seemingly on their heels most of the game, only to succumb to a series of second half surges that proved to be too much to overcome. Now the Celtics (43-32) find themselves down to the No. 6 spot in the East following back-to-back losses.

And to make matters worse, they now move on to Oakland, Calif. to face the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, who are riding a 54-game winning streak at home.

In what has been a season full of promise that they could head into the playoffs as potentially a top-three seed, has now hit a critical juncture where finishing with a better playoff position than last season will be challenging.

“There’s little room for error in these last six or seven games we have,” Boston’s Isaiah Thomas told reporters following Thursday’s loss. “Somehow, someway, try and get a win tomorrow.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Thursday night’s game.


Al-Farouq Aminu

He was the first player to get paid this summer on the free agent market, and he showed on Thursday why the Blazers were so hot after him. Aminu scored a career-high 28 points, which included six 3-pointers, also a career milestone.

C.J. McCollum

It wasn’t one of his best games this season, but McCollum came up with big shot after big shot down the stretch and finished with 17 points, eight assists and five rebounds.


Jae Crowder

Crowder has had better games, but he was surprisingly effective despite having not played in Boston’s eight previous games. He tallied a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds in his return to action from a high right ankle sprain injury.

Amir Johnson

The nights when he has it going offensively are few and far between, which only adds to the disappointment of Thursday’s loss. Johnson had a near double-double of 12 points and nine rebounds.

Avery Bradley

He finished with 20 points, 16 of which came in the third quarter. Bradley’s hot third-quarter shooting allowed the Celtics to cling to a slim lead despite the Blazers getting on track offensively near the end of the quarter.


Celtics second half defense

Portland closed out the third quarter with a 12-2 run and the game ending with the Blazers scoring the final eight points. Give Portland credit. They made some tough shots during those stretches. But more than anything else, the Celtics did not play with the kind of force or consistency needed down the stretch of a really important game in relation to their playoff seeding.

NBCSB Breakfast pod: How Jayson Tatum compares to Paul Pierce

NBC Sports Illustration

NBCSB Breakfast pod: How Jayson Tatum compares to Paul Pierce

1:25 - With half of the Celtics roster on the shelf, we’ve been able to see just how great a scorer Jayson Tatum can be. A. Sherrod Blakely, Mike Girardi and Trenni Kusnierek discuss how Tatum compares to Celtics legend, Paul Pierce.

5:35 - The NFL Competition Committee is giving it their best shot at modifying the ‘catch rule’ and Tom Curran, Kyle Draper and Hardy try to wrap their heads around the proposed changes.

11:02 - The Bruins clinched a playoff berth despite losing to the St. Louis Blues in overtime. Joe Haggerty joins Tom Giles to break down the game, which included another goal by Ryan Donato and a questionable call on a high hit on David Krejci.

Report: Kyrie Irving to undergo knee exam Thursday


Report: Kyrie Irving to undergo knee exam Thursday

The second opinion on Kyrie Irving’s sore left knee will be done on Thursday, according to the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett.

Irving, who has missed the last four games, is expected to decide between having a surgical procedure performed to help alleviate some of the soreness, or continue to manage it with rest.


During the 2015 NBA Finals, Irving suffered a fractured left kneecap injury which was the beginning of Irving’s left knee issues.

While Irving has had soreness of some form during various stretches of play this season, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has seen him making progress recently.

“That knee is still sore,” Stevens said. “He’s worked really hard to manage it throughout the entire season. He’s had some pretty good days recently. I’m encouraged by the big picture.”

But Stevens has made it clear that he supports Irving getting a second opinion, adding that Irving’s absence is due to the knee being too sore for him to play at a level he’s accustomed to.

“He’s out because of knee soreness, not because we’re choosing to rest him,” Stevens said. “That’s the bottom line. Again, we want him to feel 110 percent. He wants to feel 110 percent. Obviously, we’re fortunate we created a cushion early on in the year with playoffs and everything else. This is not one of those situations where we’re choosing to rest someone; it’s because he has a sore knee.”