Game 51: Utah Jazz (27-23, Road: 8-17) @ Boston Celtics (27-22, Home: 17-8)
Big Al Jefferson still searching for that win against the team that drafted him
Hey, you guys remember that crazy four over-time game? No? Don't remember? It happened a few nights ago . . . okay, I guess we've all moved on from there. I guess the Jazz player's legs haven't though. We'll see as the Jazz play the Boston Celtics tonight in their 3rd game in 4 nights. It's also still their 5th game in a week too, but hey, thems the breaks.
Speaking of memories, Jefferson remembers his time with the Celtics, and since being traded he has yet to taste victory against them. Of course, a large part of that deals with the systematic failure of playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Last year he had a good chance when we *should* have won at home against them. That game was last February and the Jazz lost 102 to 107. Big Al had 28 points and 19 rebounds in that game. He completely ate up the Celtics inside and we can only hope he has enough stuff in the tank to do it tonight. In that game the Jazz would have won if a few questionable calls went our way -- or you know -- if we learned to defend the three point line. Ray Allen went 5 for 8 from deep that night. If there was ever a guy built to destroy the Jazz it is Ray Allen, he has a career average of 23.9 ppg against us, while shooting 47.9 fg%, 42.9 3pt%, and 91.2 ft% along the way. Which is even more impressive when you recognize that those are IMPROVEMENTS from hsi career averages. Either he brings it against us, or we don't have an answer for him.
Maybe it is a bit of both. For our sake, Ray did participate in the shoot around, while he remains to be a game time decision for tonight.
To find out what's going on with the Celtics and the Jazz, click below!
What's going on with the Celtics?
Boston won the title a few years back and are still a dangerous team that's a legit contender. Their window seems to be closing; however, on paper, they are still a much more refined and experienced team. And we haven't beaten them in a while. This season the Celtics are really leaning on their defense to win now more than ever. They are #3 this year in opponents points per game (only 90.6), and are ranked #3 in defensive rating. They play at a middle of the road pace (#15), but their offense is #26 in ppg, and #25 in offensive rating. In a way, they are like the inverse of the Jazz (who are #6 in offense, but #22 in defense).
The Celtics may be without Ray Allen, but are for sure going to be without Jermaine O'Neal and Mickael Pietrus. This means we are going to see much more of Greg Stiemsma, Chris Wilcox, and Marquis Daniels tonight. Hopefully we'll have the advantage these in those trade offs. Boston has won 4 of their last 5 games, and just came off an insane road trip (@LAL @LAC @GSW @SAC @DEN @ATL @MIL @PHI). They continue to get it done by controlling the tempo of the games and playing great defense.
If the Jazz can run on them it could be good. How likely that is to happen remains to be seen. Over all, Boston is great on defense, make their free throws (#5 in FT%), share the ball (#4 in assists), block shots (#5), but are worst in the league at giving up offensive boards (#30). I guess that's our directed point of attack. Hopefully we get to see Enes Kanter tonight. But, hey, we don't always get what we want in life.
What's going on with the Jazz?
We've won 8 of our last 10 games, and trying to finish this season strong. Boston is a problem for us because they are vets and stars who get a lot of calls. Rondo has great defensive instincts and can do everything but shoot. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce can easily drop 25 on us, and Kevin Garnett is still a monster. That said, we're younger than them, and if we can beat the Lakers and Thunder -- we can beat the Celtics too.
It's super late so I'm going to finish this up early by saying that we'll still be without Raja Bell and Josh Howard. That alone gives me more confidence in this game. IF we crash the glass, speed up the tempo, and Big Al has a good shooting night -- we could be leaving Boston with a W.