at Utah Jazz (27-23) at Boston Celtics (27-22)
Friday, March 28
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #50, Home Game #26
TV: CSN-NE, ROOT, NBA-LP 756(UTA)/757(BOS)
Radio: WEEI, KFNZ
TD Garden Probable Starters Probable Starters
PG: Rajon Rondo 12.6 PPG 10.7 APG 1.8 SPG
SG: Ray Allen 14.6 PPG 2.5 APG .459 3P%
SF: Paul Pierce 18.9 PPG 5.1 RPG 4.9 APG
PF: Brandon Bass 13.3 PPG 6.5 RPG 1.1 BPG
C: Kevin Garnett 15.4 PPG 8.1 RPG 1.1 BPG
Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) out
Mickael Pietrus (concussion) doubtful
Ray Allen (ankle) day to day
Greg Stiemsma (feet, thumb) probable Probable Starters
PG Devin Harris 10.3 PPG 4.9 APG 1.0 SPG
SG: Gordon Hayward 10.4 PPG 3.1 APG .282 3P%
SF CJ Miles 9.3 PPG 2.1 RPG 1.2 APG
PF Paul Millsap 16.2 PPG 9.0 RPG 0.8 BPG
C Al Jefferson 19.4 PPG 9.3 RPG 1.6 BPG Jazz Reserves
Jeremy Evans Injuries
Raja Bell (Adductor) doubtful
Josh Howard (knee) out Team Connections
Al Jefferson was originally drafted by the Celtics with the 15th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft and played for the Celtics from 2004-07
Devin Harris, Josh Howard and Brandon Bass were teammates in Dallas during the 2007-08 season
Brandon Bass and Josh Howard were also teammates during the 2008-09 season
Devin Harris and Greg Stiemsma both attended the University of Wisconsin
Josh Howard and Marquis Daniels were teammates in Dallas from 2003-06
Jermaine O’Neal and Jamaal Tinsley were teammates in Indiana from 2001-08
Devin Harris and Keyon Dooling were teammates in New Jersey from 2008-10.Game Notes
This is the first and only game between these two teams this season. Both teams are playing in their 3rd game in 4 nights. The Celtics won their last two games and the Jazz are 1-1 in their last 2 on the road. They went to a 4th overtime before losing to the Hawks and then went on to beat the Nets the next night. Needless to say, the Jazz are going to be a tough foe.
The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games while the Jazz are 8-2 in their last 10. The Celtics are 17-8 at home while the Jazz have struggled a bit on the road, winning 8 and losing 17. Both teams are in a fight for playoff seeding. The Celtics remain in 7th in the East. They tied Philly for the division lead, but with Philly's win over the Cavs on Tuesday, they are back up by half a game. The Celtics must win this one to once again tie for the lead. They are 2 games behind Atlanta for 6th after the Hawks lost to the Bucks on Tuesday and 2.5 games ahead of New York for 8th. The Jazz are also in 7th in a very tight Western conference. They are tied with Houston who are in the 8th spot by virtue of the Jazz owning the tie breaker. They are also just half a game behind Memphis for the 6th spot.
The Celtics are still short handed with Mickael Pietrus still out and Ray Allen listed as day to day and with Ryan Hollins still very much a work in progress. Paul Pierce took it on himself to pick up the slack in their win over the Bobcats but there is just so much the Captain can do. The Celtics need every player to pick up their games with playoff seeding and possibly, even the playoffs, in the balance.
This will be a classic offense vs defense matchup. I've heard it said that a good offense will beat a good defense but the Celtics have to prove it's the opposite. The Jazz are 6th in the league in scoring while the Celtics are ranked 26th. The Celtics on the other hand are ranked 3rd in points allowed (90.6) and field goal percentage allowed (.424). The Celtics must make defense a priority. Key Matchups
Brandon Bass vs Paul Millsap
Millsap is a tough matchup and is having a very good year. Bass will need to up his defense to keep Millsap's scoring down and he will need to box out as Millsap is a danger around the hoop.
Kevin Garnett vs Al Jefferson
KG will be matched up against former Celtic Big Al Jefferson, who was a key member of the trade that brought KG to Boston. Big Al is having an impressive year and KG will have his hands full defensively. Hopefully Big Al is still struggling on the defensive end and will allow KG to get his points. Honorable Mention
Paul Pierce vs CJ Miles
Paul Pierce is coming off a season high in his last game and was very aggressive in going to the hoop. It would be great if he could do that again as he should have an advantage in this matchup. Keys to the Game Defense
As stated above, the Celtics will need to make defense a priority in this game as the Jazz have some very good scorers and the Celtics will have trouble winning a shoot out between them. The Celtics allowed way too many easy baskets for the Bobcats who are usually not that much of a scoring threat. They have to recommit to defense and get stops in this game. Rebound
The Celtics have been doing better on the boards but they need to continue to be aggressive in crashing the boards as a team. Utah is a good rebounding team, ranked 4th, pulling down 43.5 rebounds per game. The Celtics are still ranked last with only 38.3 rebounds per game. They need to continue to put out extra effort on the boards to limit second chance points and fast breaks for the Jazz. Bench
The Jazz has a very strong bench and the Celtics bench not so much. The Jazz got 36 points off their bench vs New Jersey in their last game while the Celtics got just 9 points from their reserves in their last game. Injuries have depleted the Celtics reserves and they will need to play well in this game in order for the game not to get out of control while the starters rest. The bench will be the difference between a close game and a blowout and possibly between a win and a loss. Be Aggressive
The Celtics were the more aggressive team for much of the game vs the Bobcats and they got to the line more and they got the win. Sometimes the Celtics play passive and when they do, they always struggle and always seem to pick up a lot more fouls. I loved seeing them going to the basket vs the Bobcats instead of settling for jumpers and it would be nice to see them do that again in this game. The Celtics must be aggressive and go strong to the basket, go after loose balls and crash the boards. Take Care of the Ball
- The Jazz are ranked 7th in the league at getting steals with 8.44 a game. The Celtics go through those lulls in every game where they seem to get sloppy with the ball and make bad passes and they seem to lose focus. The Jazz will make them pay if they don't stay focused and take care of the basketball.
Home Court and Focus
Once again, the Celtics will be at home and the crowd support should give them a boost. Also they can't lose focus against the Jazz. If they come out focused and keep their focus throughout the game, they should get the win.