For the first time in the 2010-11 season, the Boston Celtics head to the West Coast.
The Eastern Conference-leading Celtics (34-10) open their four-game trip Thursday night at the Portland Trail Blazers (25-21), with Boston aiming for its fourth straight win over over Portland, and the seventh win in their last eight games overall (10:30 p.m. CSN, TNT).
Traveling with Boston is a recently welcomed-back face, Kendrick Perkins, who made his season debut Tuesday night, his first game since tearing his ACL and PCL in the 2010 NBA Finals.
"It felt good to be on the floor," Perkins said. "I know I can do better. I can do more. ... I was a little winded and a little off-key. I can get better."
It's particularly great timing for the Celtics, because center Shaquille O'Neal has missed the past two games and although he made the trip to Portland, he is not expected to play against the Blazers.
Shaquille O'Neal will not play tonight, according to A. Sherrod Blakely. Shaq flew to Portland with the team, but will likely make his return tomorrow in Phoenix. That means Shaq should be ready for Sunday's game in LA, where he will hopefully be asking a certain Laker how his posterior tastes.
Marquis Daniels, who missed the previous game due to family issues, rejoined the team and will play tonight. The unofficial over/under on the
Boston will see another familiar face Thursday night, however: Bill Walton is taking over color commentary duties for Tommy Heinsohn on Comcast SportsNet for the games at Porland and Phoenix (Mike Gorman is still handling the play-by-play).