Celtics

Jayson Tatum sets more Celtics records as hot streak continues

Celtics

There was plenty to like about the Boston Celtics' game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday -- until the final minutes.

The Celtics came up short late in the fourth quarter of a 129-119 loss at TD Garden. More notably, All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both left the contest with 40 seconds remaining after colliding on a Portland inbounds play.

We'll hopefully know more about both players' injuries soon, but in the meantime, we'll focus on what we saw in an entertaining matchup at the Garden.

Celtics-Blazers highlights: Tatum, Brown injured late in loss

Here are the top takeaways from the Celtics' loss to the Blazers.

Jayson Tatum continues to make history

Tatum's injury in the final minute Sunday overshadowed the fact that he's on a historic pace for the Celtics.

The 23-year-old scored a game-high 33 points on 11 of 19 shooting while hitting 4 of 5 3-pointers. After dropping 60 on the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, Tatum is now up to 128 points over his last three games -- a new Celtics record, passing Larry Bird with 126.

Breaking or tying two of Larry Bird's records in a three-day span? That's a decent weekend.

Forsberg: How Tatum's record night could impact C's long-term

Tatum also tallied 24 of his 33 points in the first half, giving him four consecutive quarters of 20-plus points dating to last Wednesday's game against the Charlotte Hornets. That's a Celtics first, as well.

Tatum isn't looking to shoot on every possession, though. The two-time All-Star has been very efficient over the past three games, hitting over 50% of his shots in each contest.

 

Professional bucket-getter

Tatum's shooting % over last three games
54.4%

The C's had better hope Tatum's injury isn't serious, because they need him to maintain this high level of play over the final seven games.

Boston's rookies are making a serious impact

While we're talking about three-game stretches... Aaron Nesmith is playing the best basketball of his young career right now.

The Celtics' No. 14 pick dropped 16 points Sunday while making all four of his 3-point attempts. That's after he put up 16 on the Spurs and stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and three steals against the Charlotte Hornets.

Nesmith has played hard in limited minutes all season, and he's finally seeing that effort pay off. Meanwhile, fellow Celtics rookie Payton Pritchard added 13 points off the bench Sunday, the 19th double-digit game of his young career.

Boston's bench has struggled all season, and its second unit needs to step up if this team wants to go anywhere in the postseason -- especially if Tatum or Brown miss any time. Might Brad Stevens turn to his two rookies in the playoffs to provide that spark?

The playoff picture is getting dicey

Credit goes to CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard, who matched the C's blow-for-blow to help the Blazers win their fourth straight.

But while this wasn't necessarily a bad loss for Boston, it certainly didn't help the team's playoff aspirations.

The Celtics now sit seventh in the Eastern Conference, meaning they'd play the Washington Wizards in the dreaded play-in tournament if the season ended today. Here's a look at the No. 4 through No. 8 seeds as of Sunday night:

Seed Team Record GB
4 Knicks 36-28 --
5 Hawks 35-30 1.5
6 Heat 34-30 2.0
7 Celtics 34-31 2.5
8 Hornets 31-32 4.5

The Celtics want the No. 4 or No. 5 seed to avoid a first-round matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks. Three of their final seven games are against the Miami Heat (twice) and New York Knicks (once), so those games could have massive playoff implications.