Weeeeeeeeeeeeee're baaaaaaaaaaack!! Hello Celtics fans! With the New Year upon us, it is time to unleash the new and improved "Parquet Pundit." We were out of commission for the last few months as we hired new writers and contributors, and now we are ready to roll, perfect timing as the NBA season heats up and 2017 begins. Tonight the 20-14 Celtics host the 22-13 Utah Jazz, the best defensive team in the NBA. Boston has not had an easy schedule to date, and that won't change tonight as they take on the long, athletic, and intense Jazz.
Boston fans are also going to get an up-close look at 2017 free agent small forward Gordon Hayward, a player that has been rumored to be coming to the Celtics either through trade or the summer of '17, mainly due to his former college coach Brad Stevens being in charge of the C's. It is a perfect fit and the Celtics absolutely need a player just like him, but as of right now the Jazz are certainly not going to trade him, so if the Boston fans want to show Hayward how they feel, they might want to cheer for him when he is announced with the starting lineups.
The Jazz defense has allowed teams to score just 94.7 points per game, the best average allowed in the league. The Jazz have held opponents to under 90 points 14 times this season, tops in the NBA. Obviously their focus is going to be on stopping Isaiah Thomas, but now that Boston has more options offensively with the emergence of Avery Bradley along with the addition of Al Horford, it isn't as easy to slow down the Celtics, who are averaging 106.1 points per game (10th) and 24.9 assists (3rd). Ball movement is the key to breaking down and scoring on a strong defense, and that is Boston's best talent offensively. Utah will also be forced to come out and defend the three or Boston will hurt them from beyond that arc.
This is a good matchup of two talented teams that are starting to hit their stride. Whoever wins tonight is going to have to execute on both ends of the floor and win the battle of possessions. If Boston can't rebound effectively, it will be a long night, and it Utah can't stop the three, the same can be said for them struggling tonight. Either way, expect a very close game that should be in the high-90's/low-100's as far as a score.
Predicted Score- Boston 100, Utah 97
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