Trail Blazers-Celtics Preview
Portland and Boston have shot up the standings of their respective conferences since mid-January, with the Trail Blazers doing much of their damage on the road while the Celtics seemingly can't lose at home.
One of those streaks will finally end Wednesday night.
The Trail Blazers carry their six-game road winning streak to TD Garden, where the Celtics haven't lost in nearly two months.
Portland (33-28) matched a low-water mark at nine games under .500 after its third straight loss on Jan. 8. Since, the Trail Blazers have a worse record than only Golden State and San Antonio at 18-4, helping them vault all the way to a tie for sixth in the Western Conference.
They are 14-2 since Jan. 23 and haven't lost on the road since Jan. 18, starting this season-high six-game trip with wins at Chicago, Indiana and New York.
One of the league's best backcourts was in prime form in Tuesday's 104-85 win over the Knicks. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for 55 points, with Lillard scoring 24 in the first half and McCollum sealing the win with 21 of his 25 after the intermission.
Lillard's 30 points gave him at least that many in eight of his last nine games. He has averaged 32.9 points during the span, which included a career-high 51 against the league-leading Warriors on Feb. 19.
"It feels great," he said. "You feel like you get any sniff at the rim or any look at the rim, they got a great chance of going in."
That was the feeling all of February as he averaged 29.8 points to help Portland to a 9-2 record, its third-best mark in that month in franchise history. Lillard matched Stephen Curry with seven 30-point games in February, helping coach Terry Stotts win coach of the month.
However, Lillard has struggled in six career games against the Celtics, averaging 14.2 points on 33 percent shooting while making only 8 of 31 3-pointers.
Boston (36-25) beat the Blazers 90-89 last January in Portland to snap a four-game slide in this series.
The Celtics haven't had a skid of any kind since the middle of this January, and by that point they were already in the midst of their current run at TD Garden. They have piled up 11 straight home victories, the last nine as part of a 14-4 stretch that has them with the East's third-best record and within 4 1/2 games of Atlantic Division-leading Toronto.
Boston opened its season-high five-game homestand with wins over Milwaukee, Miami and Utah. The Celtics trailed the Jazz for most of Monday's game but rallied in the fourth quarter for a 100-95 win.
''We're really locking in, and being resilient and believing in one another. And we're believing in what coach Brad (Stevens) draws up for us,'' said Jae Crowder, who scored 22 points and hit a key 3-pointer in the final minute. ''We've been doing a great job when it's crunch time of finding the right shot. That takes a lot of togetherness, and I think we've shown that. We gotta continue to show that to win games.''
While Boston has averaged 111.4 points since Jan. 22, third most in the league, Portland has posted 112.8 since Feb. 8.