Something the Jazz have in common with the Celtics? Neither team has lost more than two games in a row all season. Boston has had 3 two-game losing streaks, the same as the Jazz. See, we're just like them! Of course the Jazz have alternated wins and losses a bit more and it could become a three-game losing streak tonight.
I really don't know what to expect from them against Boston. Part of me thinks that they'll start out slow once again, get behind 20, and call it a night. Another part of me thinks that they come out and completely shock us like in the Oklahoma City game at the start of the season and win by double-digits. Neither would surprise me.
So what's Boston up to this year besides contending for another title? Well, they have a resurgent Kevin Garnett. He had a slight dip last season in productivity, possibly because he was still recovering from his injury against Utah. He's back though and anchors the league's second-best (arguably best) defense. They're monsters on the defensive end. The Jazz will get a hands-on lesson. The offense is what's carrying the Jazz right now so if that gets shut down, it could get ugly.
Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are lethal from behind the arc. They shoot nearly 39% as a team with Pierce hitting 41% and Allen getting 48% of his to fall. Nate Robison will take a lot of threes as well. He's not bad, hitting on 35%. They're the only team in the league shooting over 50% as a team and lead the second place team (Suns) by 3% points. They're deadly inside and out.
The only thing that prevents them from being the top offensive team (they're currently 10th), is that they don't get to the free-throw line that much which is kind of surprising to me. They're 17th in the league in attempts and 24th in attempts per FGA. Given that the Jazz hack a lot, it could be a rough night defensively for the Jazz.
There are some great subplots and match-ups for tonight. Deron Williams going up against Rondo Rondo should be a treat. They're both in the top PG discussion and they both have very different methods.
Returning to Boston has to be a bigger deal for Al than returning to Minnesota for the first time. He spent most of his years in Minny but returning back to your rookie stomping grounds probably means more, especially since it was with a stories franchise. Al's been playing well. He'll be going up against Shaq tonight which should be a good test for him. I hope he eats him alive.
Finally, you have the Garnett/Millsap match-up. I may be looking forward more to this than the DWill/Rondo head-to-head. I want to see how Sap responds to his last two games. He'll have his work more than cut out for him on both ends.
If there's any night where the Jazz are going to have to run the offense efficiently, it's tonight. If they're not running the sets right, it's going to be a long game. On defense, they're going to get PnR'd to death until they can show they can stop it.
We're going to see what this team is made of over the next few games. Even with a loss, I want to see how they can bounce back. A loss against Boston in Boston isn't the end of the world. It's going to be important though to see how they play regardless.
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