When these two teams met in Utah following the All Star break, one would think that they were watching the 2013-14 Celtics, not the 2015-16 Celtics. They couldn't hit a shot, the defense was poor, and they just didn't play as a team. Utah is no slouch either; their length causes problems for the Celtics and that came to fruition on that night. Gordon Heyward proved tough to stop and the Celtics got blown out, a rare occurence for one of the best defensive teams in the NBA.
Last night the Jazz traveled to Boston for their second battle with the Celtics in two weeks, and as most predicted, this was a completely different story. The Celtics didn't beat up on the Jazz, not even close considering that they trailed throughout the entire game. Once again, Gordon Heyward was proving tough to stop, scoring eight points and leading the Jazz to a 29-23 lead after one quarter. The Jazz showed that their length advantage wasn't just an anomoly, it is a real issues when there teams match up.
Utah continued to beat up on the Celtics in the beginning of the second quarter, building their lead to 13 with just over nine minutes to go in the quarter, but as we know with this Celtic team, they were going to make a run. Boston outscored Utah 20-10 over the final nine minutes of the second quarter and went into halftime down 46-43. Boston did a good job of moving the ball and getting everyone involved in the offense. Jordan Mickey got some decent playing time in the second quarter and continued to show a strong presence around the rim, blocking shots, getting rebounds, and also picking up a couple baskets when they defense left him to double team someone else. Mickey has a nose for the ball and definitely has a future with the Celtics, if not another team in the NBA.
The third quarter wasn't much different than the first two as the two teams continued to trade baskets but the Jazz maintained a small lead. Derrick Favors and rookie Trey Lyles each had an excellent quarter. Although the Jazz still had the lead after three, Boston won the quarter, 29-27, which cut the three-point halftime lead to one and put Boston in a strong position to win the game.
Boston was finally able to obtain the lead in the fourth, but they kept going back-and-forth with the Jazz, trading backets and the lead for most of the quarter. Utah refused to go away and it was beginning to look like they were going to sweep the season series from Boston and end their 11-game home winning streak. The Celtics had other plans though. After Shelvin Mack (18 points) knocked down a three to put the Jazz up 95-93 with 49 seconds remaining, Boston took over. Jae Crowder drilled a huge three to make the score 96-95, Boston, and their was just 30.4 seconds left in regulation.
The Jazz setup a play for Gordon Heyward coming out of the timeout, but Avery Bradley had other plans and made a perfectly timed block that seemed to take the energy out of Utah. Bradley was fouled, and after hitting the first shot, he missed the second only to have Amir Johnson come up with a huge offensive rebound. Bradley was fouled again, went to the line and knocked down both shots, and that was basically it as the Celtics wrapped up the final 10 seconds.
With the win, Boston is now 37-25 and they remain the third seed in the Eastern Conference. The Jazz drop to 28-32 and are in a dog fight for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The Celtics will host the Portland Trailblazers on Wednesday, and the Jazz will travel to Toronto to take on Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors.
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