Celtics lose a grind game to the Trailblazers, 92-86

Kevin Garnett's return did not get the Celtics a win
ESPN Boxscore

Game Summary:
The Celtics came out of the gates strong, just like in Phoenix, before the Trailblazers mounted a run of their own. They lost the lead in the 1st quarter due to poor decision-making, some bad luck, and bad defense. But in the 2nd quarter, they had no one to blame but themselves. The offense collapsed due to an inability to penetrate, and the defense continued to struggle. The poorness of the Trailblazers kept them from blowing the Celtics out, and Paul Pierce brought the defect down to single-digits with some needed baskets. The Celtics trailed at the half, 49-42, but the poor play didn't carry over into the 3rd. They came out strong, quickly grabbing the lead back. The 3rd quarter had multiple lead changes, as both teams played well. Eventually the Trailblazers played better and grabbed a 4-point lead heading into the 4th quarter. It turned into a grind, with both teams struggling offensively. The Trailblazers pushed the deficit to 8 points with 6 minutes left. The Celtics battled back, but Lillard and Mathews both hit big shots to give the Blazers a 6-point lead with a minute left. The Celtics would not score, and the Blazers would head off the court with the win.

The Good:
Paul Pierce. Avery Bradley/Kevin Garnett defense. The starters offensively.

The Bad:
Rebounding. The bench. The 3-point shooting. Offensive lulls. Lack of defensive discipline. Ball movement.

The Celtics lose a tough one tonight, with the Trailblazers seemingly easy pickings. They played hard, but not intelligently. They bailed the Blazers out far too much, and they failed to make the right plays when it counted. The Celtics fall to 1-3 post all-star break, and they have a game tomorrow night against the Utah Jazz. This was a tough one to lose, as the Celtics looked to finish the road trip off strong, and it was definitely winnable.

The Celtics came out strong against the Trailblazers, quickly jumping out to a 7-0 lead. They ran the offense through Garnett which led to good results. The Trailblazers responded however, making it a 2-point game with a 9-4 run. The run was highlighted by a questionable Paul Pierce foul on a 3-point make by Nicolas Batum. KG sat, allowing Aldridge to go to work on Bass, who was unable to stop him for two straight possessions. Doc was hit with an early technical by referee Monty McCutchen, due to his constant talking in the background. The Trailblazers took their first lead with a Nicolas Batum 3-pointer, making it 18-15. Chris Wilcox made several energy plays that got the Celtics going, including an alley-oop dunk on a fast break. The Celtics went away from their winning basketball, taking long jumpers and not keeping their man in front of them. The Blazers pushed the lead to 26-19 with 2 minutes left in the 1st. Jeff Green struggled as the main offensive option in the 1st, as he was unable to get to the basket. During the last Celtics possession of the quarter, KG blew past his man and went for a dunk but mishandled the ball on the way up. The 1st ended with a failed Will Barton-iso, and the score was 27-21 with the Trailblazers having a 6-point lead.

Terrence Williams started the 2nd quarter off with the ball in his hands, and made poor decisions. He isolated far too often, with poor results. The Celtics look discombobulated on offense, often not even getting shots on their possessions early on. Poor defense and turnovers led to the Trailblazers grabbing a 8-point lead early in the 2nd. KG struggled offensively after a nice start. Jordan Crawford blew several fast break opportunities, and the referees didn't help matters either with some poor calls.The Celtics went into hibernation offensively, shooting 34% with around 6 minutes left in the quarter. While both teams struggled, Damian Lillard eventually got the Traiblazers a double-digit lead with an And-1 play. The Celtics tried to get out of the offensive lull by getting to the line, with Bass and Pierce going there on back to back possessions. Despite the offensive struggles of most of the team, Pierce shot well and was the first player in the game to get to double-digits. Pierce also led a Celtic run that cut the deficit to 2, with good passing while running simple pick and pop plays. The Blazers took a 7-point lead into halftime.

Pierce continued to be hot to start off the 3rd, as he hit 2 shots in a row. The Celtics broke out of their offensive struggles, and took a 1-point lead. The game turned into a back and forth battle, with both teams taking the lead multiple times. The Trailblazers took a 4-point lead with 3 minutes left, much to Doc's chagrin. The Blazers fought off a Celtics run, keeping the deficit at 4. The deficit stayed the same at the end of the 3rd.

The back and forth battle continued into the 4th. The Celtics continued to lack discipline on the defensive end, fouling another 3-point play. The turnover woes also continued, even on simple plays. The Celtics offensive woes continued, as they were unable to knock down open shots. The Trailblazers made things better by also struggling on that end. Wesley Mathews hit a big 3 to make it a 7-point deficit. The Celtics continued to miss open shots, including several Kevin Garnett jumpers. But the Celtics cut the lead to 4 points, after some good defense lead to offensive opportunities. Bass had an incredible finish off of a broken play to cut the deficit to 2 points. KG tied the game on a drive to the basket, but Lillard got the lead back with a 3-point play right after. Mathews hit a big 3 to push the deficit to 6 with a minute left. The Celtics could not hit on any of their late buckets.

Your take: What were your thoughts on the game tonight? Sound off in the comments!

You can follow Jun Pang on Twitter @CjEuLnTICS