Boston Celtics (45-24) at Utah Jazz (45-25)
Monday, March 22
10:30 PM ET
Game #70, Road Game #37
TV: CSN-NE, FSR-UT, NBA-LP 760-761
Energy Solutions Arena
Referees: Dan Crawford, Ed Malloy, Tommy Nunez, Jr
The Celtics beat the Jazz 105-86 in Boston back in February. However, at that time, Deron Williams was just coming off an injury and they had 3 other key players out as well. On the other hand, The Celtics had Big Baby and Tony Allen out so neither team was at full strength, but the Jazz definitely were depleted by injuries.
These two teams have almost the same record and are both 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Celtics are 24-12 on the road while the Jazz are a very good home team with a 28-8 home record. The Celtics have won 4 in a row while the Jazz are going for their 2nd straight win. Both are also relatively healthy for this matchup.
Both teams are fighting for playoff position and so are motivated to get the win. Boston is in the 3rd spot in the East, just half a game up on Atlanta and 3.5 games behind Orlando. They would like to at least stay in that 3rd spot. Utah is 4th in the West and are 1.5 games behind Dallas for 3rd and 1.5 games ahead of Phoenix for 5th.
The Celtics have already won the first 2 games on this 3 games in 4 nights road trip and it would be huge for them to close it out with another victory. It will be a tough game but if they play like they have been recently, they should be up for the task.
PG: Rajon Rondo 13.9 PPG 4.4 RPG 9.7 APG
SG: Ray Allen 16.2 PPG 3.3 RPG 3.0 APG
SF: Paul Pierce 18.1 PPG 4.2 RPG 3.1 APG
PF: Kevin Garnett 14.2 PPG 7.4 RPG 2.0 APG
C: Kendrick Perkins 10.5 PPG 7.7 RPG 1.0 APG
PG Deron Williams 18.3 PPG 4.0 RPG 10.3 APG
SG: Wesley Matthews 8.9 PPG 2.1 RPG 1.3 APG
SF CJ Miles 9.3 PPG 2.3 RPG 1.3 APG
PF Carlos Boozer 19.4 PPG 11.2 RPG 3.2 APG
C Mehmet Okur 12.8 PPG 6.8 RPG 1.7 APG
Rajon Rondo vs Deron Williams
Rondo has yet another tough matchup with one of the top young PG's in the league. Williams is strong and quick and Rondo will need to be aggressive on both ends of the court.
Paul Pierce vs CJ Miles
Paul Pierce has been hitting his stride in the last few games. His aggressiveness has gotten the team off to a good start and his clutch play down the stretch has willed the team to the wins. Hopefully Pierce will continue his strong play in this one.
Kevin Garnett vs Carlos Boozer
KG has been looking good in recent games and should continue his improvement in this game. He has a height advantage over Boozer and hopefully that will allow him to get his shot off over him.
Keys to the Game
Defense Over the past several games, we have seen the Celtics return to their trademark lock down team defense. They will need to continue to play this kind of defense as they go down the stretch in preparation of the playoffs. Defense becomes more and more important the closer they get to the post season.
We have seen a much better effort on the boards in the last few games and that needs to continue. They need to continue to put out more effort on the boards to limit second chance points and fast breaks for the Jazz.
The Celtics have a deep bench and a talented one, and the Celtics will need them to contribute in order to allow the starters to rest while still maintaining or widening a lead. The bench will be the difference between a close game and a blowout.
Don't Over-rely on the 3
The Celtics have at times relied too much on the 3 point shot. They have players who can slash to the basket and players who can score inside and if the 3's aren't falling they need to go to the basket.
The Celtics are coming off 2 big wins and heading home after this one. It would be easy to lose focus. Hopefully, the Celtics have their eyes on the bigger prize in the playoffs and will continue to focus on each game to give them the best position as they head into the post season.