This game was supposed to look a lot different when the schedule was first released over the summer. This was to be the Utah Jazz’s first matchup against their Benedict Arnold, Gordon Hayward, and his Boston Celtics. Fast forward to the end of tonight’s game and the two teams didn’t even resemble the imagined matchup. The Boston Celtics minus Gordon Hayward lost to a Utah Jazz team that was missing Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors for most of the game. The Utah Jazz won 107-95. That’s not a typo.
Early in the 1st half, the Jazz lost Rudy Gobert on a fluke play where Derrick Favors fell backwards onto his knee. Rudy Gobert was taken out of the game with Boston team doctors attending to him. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, he has a Grade 1 MCL sprain in his left knee.
Shortly after that play in the 1st half, the Utah Jazz lost Derrick Favors with an eye laceration from a collision with Jaylen Brown. He received 6 stitches and didn’t return to the game. Luckily, he has passed concussion protocol and should be available for their next game.
Somehow, though, the Utah Jazz dominated the Boston Celtics in the second half with Jonas Jerebko turning into Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio playing like he did in the first couple weeks of the season, and Donovan Mitchell flat out being the best player on the floor in the fourth quarter.
Donovan Mitchell might have had a rough first half but he redeemed himself by just taking over the game. He ended with 17 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds. He’s a rookie. It is insane that Utah has a player like this on their roster. Ricky Rubio finished the game with 22 points, 5 assists, and 7 rebounds.
We jokingly predicted that this would be a Jonas Jerebko revenge game in our preview to the game ... then it all came true. Jonas Jerebko in his first return to Boston tortured his former team with 17 points and 5 rebounds while going 4 for 7 from 3 point land. Ekpe Udoh filled in remarkably without Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. It’s amazing that Ekpe Udoh is the Jazz’s 3rd big on the depth chart and can protect the paint at times as effectively as Rudy Gobert.
The Utah Jazz had no business winning this game. They were without their backup point guard, their two best big men, in Boston, and somehow came away with the victory. The reason? Defense.
The Utah Jazz held the Boston Celtics to only 95 points. The Boston Celtics. The Jazz played lockdown perimeter defense. The Boston Celtics shot 40% from the field and only 29% from three. Pretty remarkable as the Utah Jazz had work overtime on the perimeter without Derrick Favors or Rudy Gobert covering their six.
Donovan Mitchell outplayed Jayson Tatum in their first regular season matchup. Tatum ended the game with only 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists. Donovan Mitchell is looking like the best player from the 2017 NBA Draft.
This is also a good reminder that while Tatum would have been guarded by Favors, Jerebko, Ingles and Johnson, Mitchell had to get buckets against Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, and Kyrie Irving. Donovan Mitchell is now regularly drawing the opposing teams’ best defender and overcoming their defense to get buckets. Mitchell is special. This is no ordinary rookie. Seriously, what type of rookie does this, on the road, in Horford’s grill?
Besides Al Horford and Kyrie Irving who combined for 54 points, the Boston Celtics couldn’t find any reliable help. Tatum and Jaylen Brown both struggled.
Rodney Hood may have struggled from the field, but he was stroking it from three. He was 4 of 7 from three and finished with 17 points and 5 assists.