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Fast Break: Celtics send Blazers to R.I.P City 03.09.12 at 9:48 pm ET
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After getting blown out by Philadelphia on Wednesday, the Celtics needed some momentum heading into their eight-game road trip. Fortunately, the Trail Blazers were in town and they brought their considerable baggage to the floor with them.

It was uncomfortable watching a team so completely unravel, but the Celtics weren’t complaining after taking a 35-point halftime lead in a 104-86. Portland had 16 turnovers in the first half, forced only two and watched time and again as various Celtics flew down the lane for layups and dunks.

At one point it was 10-10. At another it was 81-38. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen each scored 22 points and the starters shot 28-for-49.

The Celtics will start an eight-game road trip in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Sunday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Not settling: It wasn’t clear immediately that the Blazers were in full ship be sinking mode, but the Celtics didn’t waste any time finding out. Rajon Rondo and Pierce attacked the rim right from the start and once they realized Portland wasn’t going to put up a fight, it was open season on the basket.

Sasha Pavlovic has the cure for the second quarter blues: The veteran swingman hit a 3 on the team’s first possession and then got fouled on a breakaway layup. Pavlovic scored eight points in the quarter and the Celtics scored 18 of the first 20 points. It was 45-19 after six minutes and 38-13 for the quarter.

Save those legs: Kevin Garnett made all five of his shots and played just 20 minutes. Allen, Pierce and Rondo clocked in with just 26 apiece. They needed that.

Bench production: Avery Bradley scored 10 points and had five assists. Greg Stiemsma missed all nine shots he took, but he had seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Pavlovic added 10 points and it was the bench’s best performance in weeks, even without Mickael Pietrus (knee) and Chris Wilcox (personal reasons).

WHAT WENT WRONG

Injuries, again: Pietrus has struggled with his shot lately, but coach Doc Rivers revealed before the game that his problems are related to a knee injury. Pietrus tried to play through it on Wednesday against Philly and Rivers acknowledged before Friday’s game that he would have liked to have had that back. The hope is that Pietrus will be available for Sunday’s game against the Lakers, but that’s far from given.

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Halftime wrap: Celtics vs. Blazers 02.19.10 at 11:43 pm ET
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After a hot start offensively, the Celtics put the clamps down defensively, holding the Blazers to just three field goals in the quarter to take a 56-38 lead into halftime.

Portland scored just six points in the first six minutes of the quarter as the Celtics built a 45-31 lead with their second unit. The starters picked it up from there as Kevin Garnett knocked down his first 3-pointer of the season on a desperation heave as the shot clock expired. Garnett followed that with a length-of-the-floor layup off a feed from Rajon Rondo.

The Celtics physical defense got to the Blazers late in the half as Kendrick Perkins and Andre Miller became entangled under the basket. Perkins and Juwan Howard were assessed double technical fouls

Rondo capped off the quarter with a buzzer-beating 20-foot jump shot. He has eight points and nine assists, while Garnett leads all scorers with 13 points and seven rebounds.

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First quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Blazers at 11:03 pm ET
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Playing the second night of a back-to-back the Celtics looked sharp. They made 14 of their first 18 shots and held Portland to 43 percent shooting en route to taking a 32-25 lead. Kevin Garnett started the game 4-for-4 for eight points and four rebound and Rajon Rondo dished out six assists in addition to six points.

Paul Pierce was a game-time decision, but was in the starting lineup as usual. Portland’s Brandon Roy, who is dealing with a hamstring injury, also started. The Blazers had new addition Marcus Camby in the starting lineup. New Celtics Nate Robinson did not play and will make his debut Sunday against the Nuggets.

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Preview: Celtics-Blazers 01.22.10 at 10:21 am ET
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Kevin Garnett’s return, if it happens tonight, couldn’t come at a better time for the Celtics. But for Garnett personally, the timing couldn’t be worse. The Celtics have problems right now ranging from the physical to the mental. Garnett can help fix some of those things but he can’t do it all in one night, and it wouldn’t be a good idea to ask him to try.

Garnett hasn’t played since the end of 2009, or just over three weeks ago, and during that time he apparently did no conditioning before this week, according to the team. It will take him a week’s worth of action, at least, to get back in rhythm and game-condition. The end game isn’t for the Celtics to get out of their swoon, it’s to be functioning on all cylinders in April, May and June.

All that said, if he does play tonight, his mere presence can have a galvanizing effect on a team that has grown stale. Just don’t expect him to solve all the Celtics problems yet.

TRAIL BLAZERS (26-17, 6-4 last 10)

Points Per Game: 97.7

Points Allowed: 94.2

Differential: +3.5 (Eighth)

Offensive Efficiency: 111.0 (Fifth)

Defensive Efficiency: 107.1 (17th)

Pace: 87.4 (30th)

Likely Starters: Andre Miller, Jerryd Bayless, Martell Webster, LaMarcus Aldridge, Juwan Howard

Injuries: Brandon Roy (hamstring), Nicolas Batum (shoulder), Greg Oden (knee), Joel Przybilla (knee), Travis Outlaw (foot)

CELTICS (27-13, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.9

Points Allowed: 93.8

Differential: +6.1 (Third)

Offensive Efficiency: 108.2 (11th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.6 (Third)

Pace: 91.8 (21st)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Kevin Garnett (hyper-extended knee), Marquis Daniels (thumb) Read the rest of this entry »

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