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Apr 6, 2024 1:51 pm

Celtics bid to stay sharp at home vs. Trail Blazers

Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics will be seeking their 13th consecutive home victory when they face the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night.

Boston (61-16) improved its home record to 34-3 with a 101-100 win against Sacramento on Friday. The Celtics, who have clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, rested their starters in the fourth quarter and had their reserves on the court in the final minutes.

“All those guys have played a significant role in winning games the entire season,” Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said. “When guys have been injured, they’ve stepped up. Everybody on the floor (at the end) has started a game for us this year, I think, or have played significant minutes. It’s just a testament to them. Whoever’s on the floor, I feel we always have a chance to win.

“You have to be able to win games with different guys. I felt like it was important in that particular moment that they earned the right to do whatever it took to win the game.”

The Celtics played without starters Jaylen Brown (hand) and Derrick White (back).

“It’s good for our team chemistry — those kinds of moments,” said Boston’s Kristaps Porzingis, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds in the victory. “And seeing Joe (Mazzulla) all hyped up on the sidelines. It was pretty cool. A good win for us.”

Boston’s Xavier Tillman made what turned out to be the game-winning shot — a floater in the lane — with 7.1 seconds to play after the Kings took the lead with 27 seconds remaining. Tillman is averaging 18.7 minutes and 5.2 points per game this season.

“We’re not necessarily playing for anything anymore since we’re already solidified, so for them (his teammates) to still be excited about that, that was pretty cool for sure,” Tillman said.

This will be the final stop on a seven-game road trip for Portland (21-56), which has won back-to-back contests after losing the first four games on the trek.

Portland (21-56) ended a 10-game losing streak with an 89-86 win against Charlotte on Wednesday, and then beat Washington 108-102 Friday. The win against the Wizards gave the Trail Blazers consecutive victories for the first time since they beat Memphis on March 1-2.

“We did a good job of following the game plan,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said following Friday’s win. “Our game plan discipline was pretty good in this game.”

Deandre Ayton collected 34 points and 13 rebounds in the victory.

“We’re just working on us,” Ayton said when he was asked about Portland’s poor record. “We’re not really thinking about none of that stuff right now. We know what happened this year. We know what type of obstacles we went through. … We’re trying to work on us so there won’t be no question about making the playoffs next year.”

Ayton had 22 points and 15 rebounds when Boston earned a 121-99 road victory over Portland on March 11. The Celtics prevailed even though Porzingis and Jrue Holiday each missed the game with injuries.

Brown had 27 points and Jayson Tatum added 26 in that game for Boston.

–Field Level Media

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