The Boston Celtics picked up an impressive win in Portland behind some clutch shooting from Jayson Tatum.
A straightaway triple from Tatum with 7.8 seconds left gave Boston a four-point lead, before Norman Powell responded with a long-range bomb of his own.
Marcus Smart would then miss the first free-throw before intentionally missing the second, forcing Damian Lillard into a fullcourt heave, with the Celtics hanging on for the 116-115 win.
Jayson Tatum buries the triple to extend the @celtics edge!@celtics 116@trailblazers 112- NBA (@NBA) April 14, 2021
7.8 to play on TNT pic.twitter.com/f0iLOFDEzN
Tatum delivers in Dame's house
The above-mentioned triple wasn't the only clutch shot Tatum made in the final minute, with the Boston All-Star nailing two free throws down the stretch to ensure the Celtics kept their noses in front.
Providing the dagger, Tatum made a shot that we are used to seeing Lillard bury on that Blazers floor, helping the Celtics to their sixth win in their last seven. The Celtics will now have an opportunity to round out a perfect Western Conference trip against the Los Angeles Lakers, after already handling the Denver Nuggets.
It was an efficient night for Tatum, who poured in 32 points on 10-for-17 from the floor and 4-for-7 from behind the 3-point line. The 23-year-old also added nine rebounds and four assists.
☘️ @jaytatum0 drops 25 of his 32 PTS in the 2nd half... @celtics win their 4th in a row! #BleedGreen pic.twitter.com/nG4UGDsNhe- NBA (@NBA) April 14, 2021
Robert Williams III continues to impress in starting role
With Daniel Theis traded at the deadline, Robert Williams III has made a significant impact in his new role as starter for the Celtics.
Williams chipped in with 16 points, seven boards and four assists against the Blazers, and is now averaging 10.1 points and 9.1 rebounds in 10 starts with the team this season.
Rob with the follow! pic.twitter.com/ecBN0iIEFL- Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 14, 2021
Dame the facilitator
In a rare occurrence, it was a cold night shooting the ball for Lillard, with the superstar guard needing 23 shots for his total of 28 points. Despite struggling to find the range, he did rack up 10 assists, including a beautiful drive-and-kick to CJ McCollum for a corner triple with 1:02 remaining.
It was the 14th time Lillard has reached double-digits in assists this season, with his name firmly in the MVP conversation on the road to the postseason.
executed to perfection- Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) April 14, 2021
Dame ➡️ Nurk ➡️ Dame ➡️ CJ
Nurkic produces poster
Looking for a good run of health on the road to the postseason, Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic produced a big-time jam nearing halftime.
Lillard found Nurkic under the basket with Marcus Smart by his side. Nurkic rose up to throw down the powerful one-handed jam in one of the highlights of the night.
WE YELLED pic.twitter.com/J8xAxVsRDf- Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) April 14, 2021
It was just the 20th appearance of the season for the 26-year-old after he was restricted to just eight games during the 2019-20 season. Nurkic finished with eight points, nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
Vintage Smart hustle
It's not a surprise when we see it, but it doesn't mean it doesn't deserve highlighting.
With the Celtics making a run in the second quarter, Smart made two hustle plays in the span of 10 seconds to spark Boston.
The hustle... Marcus Smart doesn't stop! 🙌- NBA (@NBA) April 14, 2021
57-51 BOS lead on TNT pic.twitter.com/J639USR9sn
Diving full length on the floor to try and retrieve a deflected ball, the Blazers looked like they would have an easy four-on-five down the other end. Instead, Smart bounced to his feet and sprinted the full length of the floor to deflect a pass under the basket and create another possession for Boston.
The classic Smart play came in the middle of a strong second quarter from the Celtics, as they cut the deficit from eight after one to three at the half.
What it means
Boston now move to 30-26 on the season, importantly creating 1.5 games separation in attempting to avoid a Play-In Tournament seed. Portland on the other hand drop to 31-24, now finding themselves just one game clear of the Dallas Mavericks in their attempt to move straight into the first round.
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