Celtics Close Home Stand with a Visit from the Jazz

Utah Jazz (27-15) at Boston Celtics (32-9)
Friday, January 21
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #42, Home Game #24
TV:  CSN-NE, FSR-UT, NBA-LP 756/757
Radio:  WEEI, KFNZ
TD Garden
Referees:  Ken Mauer,  Leroy Richardson,  Zach Zarba 

The Celtics welcome Al Jefferson back to the Garden in tonight's game vs the Utah Jazz.  The Jazz are in the 5th spot in the West and in spite of recent struggles, have played very well this season.  They come into this game losers of their last 2 games and 5-5 in their last 10 but have a 27-15 overall record.  They are a tough team and the Celtics must take them seriously.   The Jazz have played well on the road in spite of their last two losses and are 12-8 away from home.  The Celtics are 20-3 at home, but a few of those wins have been close ones over teams they should have blown out. With Deron Williams at the helm and a very talented team,  the Jazz will be a tough foe and the Celtics can't afford to take them lightly. 

Last season, the Celtics split the season series 1‐1, each winning on their home court.  Ray Allen led the Celtics with an average of 15.0 points per game.  Rajon Rondo averaged 10.0 points, 8.5 assists and 2.5 steals in the two contests.  Deron Williams averaged 17.5 points and 7.5 assists in the two contests.  C.J. Miles netted 23 points in his only game against the Celtics last season.  Mehmet Okur averaged 11.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in the two games.

The Jazz have a strong starting 5 along with a very good bench and they are well coached.  The Celtics will have their hands full with each matchup.  Also, several of their reserves were their starters last season so the Celtics bench players must step up their game.  The Celtics are looking for their 5th straight win while the Jazz are looking to break a 2 game losing streak. This will be a good test of the Celtics vs a very good team from the West. 

Probable Starters

Probable Starters
PG:   Rajon Rondo 13.2 PPG  13.2 APG 2.4 SPG
SG:   Ray Allen 17.5 PPG  3.1 APG  .468 3P%
SF:    Paul Pierce 19.1 PPG  5.2 RPG  3.4 APG
PF:    Kevin Garnett 15.0 PPG  9.3 RPG  0.7 BPG
C:    Shaquille O'Neal  10.2 PPG  5.1 RPG  1.2 BPG

Boston Bench Mob

Marquis Daniels
Glen Davis
Luke Harangody
Von Wafer
Semih Erden
Nate Robinson

Kendrick Perkins (knee) out
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) out
Delonte West (wrist) out
Marquis Daniels (ankle) probable


Avery Bradley

Probable Starters
PG   Deron Williams  22.1 PPG  9.5 APG   1.2 SPG
SG:  Raja Bell    8.4 PPG  1.6 APG  .397 3P%
SF  Andrei Kirilenko   11.3 PPG  5.2 RPG 3.4 APG
PF  Paul Millsap  17.2 PPG   7.9 RPG  0.9 BPG
C   Al Jefferson   16.9  PPG  8.8 RPG  1.9 BPG

Jazz Reserves
CJ Miles
Francisco Elson
Mehmet Okur
Ronnie Price
Earl Watson
Kyrylo Fesenko
Gordon Hayward
Jeremy Evans 

Key Matchups
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.

Kevin Garnett vs Paul Millsap
KG came back strong from his calf injury but struggled slightly against the Pistons.  Millsap has been playing very well for the Jazz and the Celtics will need a strong game out of KG to counter him.

Honorable Mention
Shaquille O'Neal vs Al Jefferson
This should be a fun matchup to watch with two very good centers going at each other.  Big Al has a quickness advantage, but Shaq has a size advantage.  Hopefully Shaq didn't wear himself out diving after all those loose balls against the Pistons.

Paul Pierce vs Andrei Kirilenko
You have to consider Paul Pierce key in just about every game as he has been giving the Celtics just what they need in every game.  We also can't forget that he made Kirilenko cry a couple of years ago.

Keys to the Game
Defense With KG back, the Celtics defense is ramping back up.  The Jazz are 20-2 when they score 100 or more points and are just 7-13 when held below 100 points.   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.   

Rebound The Celtics out-rebounded the Pistons 47-34.  They need to continue this  effort on the boards to limit second chance points and fast breaks for the Jazz.   When the Celtics put out the effort on the boards, it translates in to all the other areas of their game as well. 

Bench The Jazz has a very strong bench and the Celtics bench mob will need to play well in this game in order for the game not to get out of control while the starters rest.  Utah's bench leads the league in scoring defense allowing only 24.4 ppg so the Celtics bench will have stiff competition in this game.   The bench will be the difference between a close game and a blowout and possibly between a win and a loss.

Be Aggressive  Sometimes the Celtics get passive and when they do, they always struggle and always seem to pick up a lot more fouls.  The Celtics must be aggressive and go strong to the basket, go after loose balls and crash the boards.

Play 48 Minutes
The type of effort we saw in the first 3 quarters of the Pistons game won't cut it in this one.  The Celtics need to come out strong and play hard until the final buzzer.  Jerry Sloan always has his teams playing hard and the Celtics need to match that effort.  

Official Report
Ken Mauer
Mauer has been a referee since the 1986-87 season and has officiated over 1,200+ regular season games, 70+ play-off games and 4 NBA Finals games. Mauer is very quick to call technicals and in one game, once ejected Doc less than 3 minutes into a game. In a recent Timberwolves game he might have set the record by calling 5 technicals in a 10 second span.   Mauer was one of the refs charged with tax evasion and obstructing federal tax laws for receiving substantial taxable income from 1989 through 1994 and failing to declare it. He was one of the refs in the controversial Miami/Dallas Finals where the foul calls were totally lopsided. The Celtics are 2-1 this season with Mauer officiating.  Utah is 8-2 in their last 10 games with Mauer while the Celtics are 5-5 with Mauer on the court.  His home W/L record this season is 18-14.  

Leroy Richardson
Richardson has officiated 640+ regular season games and 3 playoff games. He has also taken part of the 2003 All-Stars Weekend, refereeing the NBA All-Stars Saturday Game. Richardson served 12 years in the United States Navy before beginning his career as a referee. The Celtics are 2-0 with Richardson as an official this season.  Both teams have a 7-3 record in their last 10 games with Richardson as a referee.

Zach Zarba
Zarba has officiated over 175+ regular season games and spent 2 years officiating the D-League.  He also spent 1 year with the CBA and 3 years at the college level.  His first season in the NBA was in 2004.   He has worked his way up the referee ladder fairly quickly and was on the playoff roster for the first time last season.  The Celtics are 1-0 with Zarba this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with him.  The Jazz are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Zarba as an official. 


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.