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Celtics try to halt skid as Damian Lillard, Blazers visit

Mar 5, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) brings the ball up court in front of Orlando Magic guard Jalen Suggs (4) during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The reeling Boston Celtics will try to end a three-game losing streak when they face the visiting Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night in the first meeting between the teams this season.

Boston was without leading scorer Jayson Tatum (knee), Al Horford (back) and Robert Williams III (hamstring) for Monday’s 118-114 overtime loss at Cleveland. The Celtics had a 14-point lead entering the fourth quarter.

Boston coach Joe Mazzulla didn’t provide details about Tatum’s injury but said he didn’t expect him to miss much time. Williams isn’t expected back until next week. Boston dropped a 131-129 double-overtime loss to New York on Sunday.

“You just continue to control what you can control, and that’s really it,” Boston guard Marcus Smart said. “We put in the work and basketball’s a game of runs. It’s a lot of ups, it’s a lot of downs. The tide’s going to turn, we just gotta really hold it off until it turns and just keep playing and doing what you’re supposed to do.”

The Trail Blazers are coming off Monday’s 110-104 victory over Detroit and have won back-to-back games for the first time since Feb. 3.

Damian Lillard had 31 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, his second triple-double of the season and the third of his career.

“We’ve got to fight for everything at this point,” Lillard said. “We need every win that we can get. I just wanted to come out and be aggressive and be in attack mode and not really worry about the small things. Just try to get it done.”

Lillard’s 13 rebounds are the most he’s had in a game this season. His previous high was 10.

“He’s going in there fighting with the big guys,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said. “He’s just the type of player that’s going to do whatever it takes on any given night. It could be 50 (points) one night. It could be these crazy numbers that he’s putting up and then some nights it could be 12 assists and 13 rebounds. He’s prepared to do whatever it takes.”

The Celtics have a 25-9 home record but have lost their last two games played in Boston. The Trail Blazers are 14-19 on the road.

After Wednesday’s game, Boston will embark on a six-game road trip with stops in Atlanta, Houston, Minnesota, Portland, Utah and Sacramento.

“We really need to win this game against Portland so we can leave Boston on a good note, a positive note starting the road trip,” Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon said. “These are six teams on the road that we should beat, that we need to beat. It’s really that simple. Going undefeated is the goal and the expectation.”

Portland hasn’t beaten a team that currently has a winning record since Feb. 8 when it outscored Golden State 125-122. Portland has 17 games remaining, and 12 of those are against teams that are above the .500 mark.

–Field Level Media