The Boston Celtics (13-24, 5-14 road) visit the Portland Trail Blazers (27-9, 14-4 home) on Saturday night at the Rose Garden (10 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:
END OF THE ROAD: The Celtics will bid good riddance to this daunting five-game road trip while trying to break up the road shutout against the Western Conference this season (0-8). This current trip has featured four of the top five teams in the West (Portland, despite a recent hiccup, the best among them in terms of record) and a surging Denver squad. Boston's reward when it arrives back home? A visit from another Western Conference contender in the Houston Rockets.
PORTLAND AT A GLANCE: The Trail Blazers own the most efficient offense in the league, averaging a whopping 110.2 points per 100 possessions. Portland has the NBA's best assist-to-turnover ratio, limits its turnovers (fourth best turnover percentage), and rebounds well (fifth in total rebound rate). The Blazers' defense is susceptible (22nd in defensive rating) but their offense is putting a lot of pressure on teams to keep up.
DEFENDING THE 3-POINT LINE: Portland leads the NBA in percentage of points generated beyond the 3-point arc (28.3 percent) and is second in percentage of points generated via the mid-range (22.6 percent). That's incredibly daunting when the league's best offense is one that attacks beyond 16 feet. The Blazers shoot a league-best 39.5 percent beyond the 3-point arc and average an NBA-high 109.1 points per game.
WHAT ELSE?: The Celtics dropped a 109-96 decision against Portland in Boston in mid-November and this wraps up the season series. ... Brad Stevens went with a nine-man rotation during Friday's loss to Golden State, but might have to loosen that up on the back-to-back. ... Boston quietly now owns the fifth-worst record in the league while losing 10 of its last 11 overall (and is within a ½ game of Philadelphia at the bottom of the Atlantic Division).