NBA Regular Season: Utah Jazz (4-4) at Boston Celtics (4-3) -- Game Preview

Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

Game #9 • TD Garden • Boston • November 14, 2012 • 5:30 p.m. (MT) • TV: ROOT Sports RADIO: 1280 AM/97.5 FM

NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 9:

Utah Jazz (4-4) @ Boston Celtics (4-3)

#UTAatBOS Game Stream -- CelticsBlog (SB Nation Blog) -- Jazz vs Celtics coverage

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The Basics:

The Jazz play game 2 of their 4 game long road trip tonight (this afternoon?) in Boston. It's a "revenge" game for Al Jefferson, and I hope he plays well. After all, he was drafted by this team. The Celtics aren't world beaters right now. Their only wins were against the Washington Wizards (twice), once against the Milwaukee Bucks (they also lost a game against the Bucks), and two nights ago against the Derrick Rose bereft Chicago Bulls. They've lost to the Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, and the previously mentioned Bucks. They're not dominating on offense, or defense. Right now our Jazz have a better defensive rating -- how crazy is that?

These aren't those contending Celtics anymore. There's no Ray Allen, Marquis Daniels, Greg Stiemsma, or, uh, Sasha Pavlovic. Well, okay. They've really only lost Ray over the off-season; but they've added quite a number of new faces. Primarily (for me) are Jared Sullinger, Jason Terry, Darko Milicic, and Courtney Lee. At the end of the day they're still a Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo team. And they're still playing in a place we're historically poor playing in. (We've lost in Boston 31 of the last 42 times we've played there . . . rounding up that's 74% of the time)

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History:

Last season these two teams played only once, and it was a 12 point loss for our side (Boston 94 @ Utah 82). Our games seem 'closer' than that, but I guess they remain close; but then we can't get over the hump. That seems to be what it's been like the last few seasons at least.

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The Game:

Both teams are rested and the Celtics are at home. I'm not a huge fan of our road performance so far, but we need to show something here. It shouldn't take three overtimes to defeat the Toronto Raptors without their starting backcourt of Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields. Our Finals team would have curb stomped that Raptors squad in the first half. I think more than anything our games against the Celtics comes down to a mental aspect. We're as athletic as they are. We're as big as they are. They get away with some calls here and there, but they've earned that as the team in our league with the most championships. We have to get over that mental hump against them. And it seems to be like we have to do that with each version of the Jazz. I remember when Karl Malone finally won a game in Boston he was jumping up and down after it like he won the title. When our D-Will / AK-47 team did so, they celebrated as well.

I can only imagine what it would be like for this team. Well, Marvin Williams and Mo Williams both have a lot of experience playing in this place as both were mainstays in the Eastern Conference for a while. Both guys have won games in this building, so tonight we need to act like we've been here before.

The Marquee matchup will be Al Jefferson against Kevin Garnett. We'll see Derrick Favors on him at times during this game as well; but Al is pretty damn hot right now. Gotta roll with the hot hand. But our Jazz team will be rolling in there as a team. Our guys gotta have each others' backs. I think things this time around will reflect our unity much better.

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Word from the Badguys:

I got nothing here, today's been a crazy day. But, years ago on the 8-Bit NES system my brother and I used to really go at it against one another with Tecmo NBA Basketball. It had all 27 NBA teams on it and was a good game in that Lakers vs Celtics fame that we used to play against one another on our IBM Clone back in the early 80s. (5 1/4" for life!) Well, we tried all the teams, but because of my hate for the Lakers I would eventually have to end up being the Celtics at times to beat him. This one time it was a 2 point game and I had a chance to take it to over time. This was a late Celtics roster and their best players were over the hill. Well, for some reason my brother left Larry Bird open and the computer AI had him run to the ball behind the three point line with only 0.08 seconds left. I got it, shot it, and boom -- it went in.

Celtics beat the Lakers.

Larry Legend.

The only thing that was heard from the TV was the "swish" noise and then the NES rebooted. You, totally in that 13 year old kid way, had to be there in our basement to get how great it was.

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X-Factors:

I'm going to say something crazy . . . but it's going to be pace. The Jazz are averaging 93.2 possessions a game. That's good enough for 12th fastest in the league. (Of course, part of this is no doubt influenced by our overtimes skewing the data) The Celtics have played one OT game as well, and their pace is 93.4 possessions a game, good enough for 11th. These are the old 1980s versions of the Celtics and Jazz; the ones that would only really run after a defensive stop. Both of these teams push the tempo after the opponent scores now. We may see a very different game than we're used too -- with guys like Randy Foye, Leandro Barbosa, Courtney Lee, and Jason Terry doing their short, fast, and furious SG thing.

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As an aside:

I know we're keeping score, but Big Al has never won an NBA game against Kevin Garnett. I think a lot of our 'toughness' questions stem from these games. We need to play tough tonight, and I'd love to see it come from our vets. We can't go into this game being intimidated by them.

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Fearless Prediction:

The Jazz may lose this game, but it's not going to be a blowout. We're not playing against a championship team tonight, and we're not a group of guys who can't space the floor on offense anymore. We're both different teams. We may still lose the game -- but it's not going to be bad. I hope. Shut up.

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