In their first two seasons since acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the Celtics lost three consecutive games on only two occasions. But fast forward to the present, and the C's have strung together two three-game losing streaks this month. They haven't lost four straight, though, and Friday night is crucial for the C's to keep that streak alive.
The Celtics haven't won since their 111-87 romp over New Jersey nine days ago, and they need to regain their composure fast. If Garnett makes his return in the C's matchup with Portland, that would obviously be a huge help.
Friday, Jan. 22, 7:30 p.m. ET (CSNE)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
Celtics (27-13, first place in Atlantic Division, second place in Eastern Conference)
Blazers (26-17, second place in Northwest Division, tied for fourth place in Western Conference)
This is the Celtics' first meeting with the Blazers this season. The teams split their two games last year — the C's won 93-78 at home on Dec. 5, 2008, with all five starters scoring in double figures, but they dropped a 91-86 decision in Portland on Dec. 30.
These are two of the best but most-injured teams in the NBA. The Celtics are just now starting to get KG back and are still without Marquis Daniels. The Blazers, meanwhile, are missing both their centers, Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla, for the entire season. They're also without leading scorer Brandon Roy at the moment, which isn't making matters any better. When healthy, these are two of the most complete teams in the game, but at the moment, neither squad is healthy.
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Kendrick Perkins
Point guard: Andre Miller
Shooting guard: Steve Blake
Small forward: Martell Webster
Power forward: LaMarcus Aldridge
Center: Juwan Howard
The Celtics are 8-5 against Western Conference teams this season.
They are shooting 48.7 percent from the floor this season. Only the Suns (48.9 percent) are better.
Rajon Rondo had eight assists in the Celtics' loss to Detroit on Wednesday night, giving him 376 for the season. He ranks third in the NBA behind Steve Nash (480) and Jason Kidd (388) in that category. Rondo has played fewer games (39), however, than both Nash (43) and Kidd (42).
Paul Pierce has gotten to the free-throw line a team-high 213 times. He's made 179 (84.0 percent) of those attempts.
Kendrick Perkins leads the Celtics in rebounds (328) and blocks (85).
Ray Allen is 2-for-10 from 3-point range over the Celtics' current three-game losing skid.
Kevin Garnett has averaged 18.9 points and 10.3 rebounds in 51 career games against the Blazers.
The Blazers are 10-10 on the road this season.
They have scored 111.0 points per 100 possessions, making them the fifth-most efficient team in the NBA offensively.
Steve Blake is 65-for-162 (40.1 percent) from 3-point range this season.
LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging 8.3 rebounds per game, a career-high.
Andre Miller and Martell Webster are the only Blazers to appear in all 43 games this season.
Juwan Howard has 16.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in 35 career meetings with the Celtics.
Jerryd Bayless has come off the bench to average 8.8 points per game.
Kevin Garnett, who has missed nearly a month with a hyperextended right knee, has practiced with the team this week. He hopes to return Friday night.
Marquis Daniels underwent left thumb surgery in December. He should return next month.
Brandon Roy reaggravated a hamstring injury in the Blazers' win over Philadelphia on Wednesday night. He will sit out the next two games.
Nicolas Batum and Travis Outlaw both underwent surgery earlier this season and are out indefinitely.
Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla are both out for the season.
In 2007, the Celtics drop a 93-89 decision to the Spurs at the TD Garden. Tim Duncan, who finishes the game with 21 points and nine rebounds, improves to 18-0 in his career against the Celtics. That streak is finally snapped on March 17, 2007, when the Celtics beat the Spurs 91-85 in San Antonio.
"He looked real fluid, he got up and down the court, and we got him the ball in the post. It’ll be a positive to get him back, whenever he comes back … It’s just good to have him out there. His presence — you feel it and see it on the court."
–Celtics captain Paul Pierce, in Friday's Providence Journal, on the return of Kevin Garnett to practice this week
Kevin Garnett is an All-Star.
Can KG bring the C's to life?
Glen Davis was fined $25,000.
The Blazers scratch and claw for wins.
Nicolas Batum nears a return.
Brandon Roy takes a seat.
LeBron James carried the Cavs past the Lakers.
Kobe Bryant became the youngest player to reach 25,000 career points.
Believe it or not, Allen Iverson is an All-Star.
This game is a test of who can overcome adversity the best, weathering injuries and finding ways to win with whatever talent they've got. The Celtics haven't been winning much of anything lately, but the potential return of Kevin Garnett could mean a return to winning ways for a C's team that has struggled defensively without KG's presence. As for the Blazers, it'll be tough going without Brandon Roy and their corps of big men. This game could wind up being a war of attrition between two embattled teams.