When the Boston Celtics tighten the vice, even great offenses turn into mud. The Portland Trail Blazers don't have a great offense right now, thanks to the absence of Brandon Roy and Marcus Camby. So what resulted in the Rose Garden once the C's decided to give the Blazers a tough time was something more like wet cement.
The Celtics left Portland with an 88-78 win. The Blazers shot 36.7 percent, which happens against Boston. Just one of Portland's starters, 2-for-3 Joel Przybilla, shot better than 50 percent from the field. The top five shottakers for the Blazers -- LaMarcus Aldridge, Wes Matthews, Andre Miller, Rudy Fernandez and Patty Mills -- shot a combined 25-71, or 35 percent. You can't win like that, unless your defense is phenomenal. Portland's defense was good -- the Blazers refused to foul Paul Pierce, and held Rajon Rondo to five assists -- but not good enough.
Matthews scored 12 points on 4-15 shooting. Aldridge was 8-20 from the floor.
Nicolas Batum shot just 1-6 before a knee injury knocked him out of the game. (A knee injury, in Portland? No!) The wing will have an MRI Friday morning, and left the locker room on crutches. I want to give Nate McMillan a big pat on the shoulder, and "I'm sorry" and some holy water.
Ray Allen led Boston with 18 points. He hit three three-pointers, bringing him to within 17 of Reggie Miller's all-time record of 2,560. Ray's on pace to break the record during a Feb. 10 Thursday night TNT game against the Lakers or Feb. 13 on ABC against the Heat. I predict there will be Mama Ray on the screen.