C's get big win, rest before trip


C's get big win, rest before trip

BOSTON The Boston Celtics got the one thing that every team - old or young - would want on the eve of a long road trip - a blowout win.

The C's 104-86 win over Portland was a game in which the final score does not do justice to how dominant the Celtics (21-18) were in winning at home for the fifth straight game.

Boston led by as many as 43 points, the kind of lead that afforded the Celtics' veterans to spend the entire fourth quarter on the bench, cheering on the backups who saw more action than usual.

C's Captain Paul Pierce was one of the more vocal Celtics at encouraging the team to not let up so that he and the rest of the core players could spend the fourth quarter on the bench.

"You just have to focus on concentrating and execution," said Pierce, who had 22 points. "You don't want to go out there and start getting sloppy."

It's easy to imagine a letdown with a halftime lead (65-30) that more than doubled the opponent's point total.

"We were up so much at the half, we said we were going to come out here and execute our stuff, you know be sharp in everything we do," Pierce said.

The Celtics were guillotine-like sharp in chopping down the Blazers, as they increased their lead to as many as 43 points.

It was the kind of performance the Celtics would love to have more often.

But on the eve of heading out on an eight-game road trek?

The timing for a game like this could not have been much better, especially with it providing his guys additional rest.

"It's a long road trip, but I do think there's rest in it," Rivers said. "The first two games (at Los Angeles Lakers and at Los Angeles Clippers) are tough because of the long flight, you play (early) and then you play the next day. But then after that, there's days off in between."

Still, heading out on the road with some momentum sure beats the alternative.

While the Celtics maintain that all games are important now, there does appear to be some games where they seem more locked in to what they have to do to win.

Friday night was one of those times.

"We needed this, and put a lot of focus into this game," said Boston's Sasha Pavlovic, who had a season-high 10 points off the bench. "If we play like this on the road, we'll be fine; we can beat anybody with this type of mentality."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics host the Raptors at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

BOSTON – Avery Bradley doesn’t mind being a standout, but this is probably not what he had in mind. 

Injuries have ravaged the Boston Celtics’ starting five to the point where only one player, Bradley, has been with the first unit in all 22 games this season. 

Just like Bradley was looked upon to step his game up in the absence of Isaiah Thomas (right groin) at Orlando on Wednesday, he will once again be challenged to lead Boston (13-9) to victory tonight when the Thomas-less Celtics face the Toronto Raptors. 

Bradley’s emergence as a two-way talent this season has overshadowed at times what has been another season of elite play defensively. 

And he’ll need to be on top of his defensive game tonight against a Raptors All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. 

Both Lowry and DeRozan present a different kind of challenge for Bradley who will spend time defending each of them at various points during the game. 

Lowry has good size, strength and deceptive quickness in addition to an under-rated perimeter game that will keep Bradley on his toes for sure. 

This season he's averaging 20.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and a career-high 7.6 assists while shooting 42.9 percent on 3's which is also a career mark. 

And DeRozan is having the kind of season that might get him a few league MVP votes. 

His 28.0 points per game ranks fifth in the NBA, but making his numbers even more impressive is that unlike most guards DeRozan doesn’t generate much offense from three-pointers.

DeRozan averages 1.8 three-point attempts per game which is the fewest attempts among any player ranked among the league’s top-25 scorers.

The 6-foot-7 All-Star is the master of the mid-range game which accounts for 31.5 percent of the points he scores. And when he’s not shooting the mid-range, he’s working a defender in one-on-one iso-situations. 

That helps explain why 76.4 percent of his two-point made field goals are unassisted. 

But here’s the thing about Bradley. 

As much as we give him props for what he does defensively, it’s his offense that has put him on the map as a potential All-Star this season. 

Bradley is averaging a career-high 17.9 points while shooting 47.2 percent from the field. He’s also averaging a career-high 7.8 rebounds per game in addition to shooting a career-high 40.7 percent on 3's.

But for Bradley, individual accolades are only going to come his way by the Celtics winning games; preferably against above-average teams like the Toronto Raptors.

And that would make both Bradley and the Celtics stand out this season.