Celtics-Jazz preview: Can Utah stop being a pushover?


BOSTON -- The last two games have brought out the best and worst in the Celtics offensively.

Against the Chicago Bulls on Monday, Boston scored a season-low 85 points in a 23-point drubbing. They came back on Wednesday to score a season-high 124 points in a six-point win over Denver.

With the Utah Jazz in town, chances are high that we'll see the Celtics settle on being somewhere in the middle offensively, of what we've seen the last two games.

But will that be enough to win?

It will be based on recent history between these two teams at the TD Garden.

Boston (24-6) comes into tonight's game with the best record in the East, but the Celtics' success has been even more pronounced when hosting the Jazz (13-15), losers of nine in a row on the Celtics' home floor.

And the Jazz (13-15) aren't exactly doing much of late to make one believe they're trending in the right direction. They come into tonight's game on a four-game losing streak after having won their previous six games.

More recently, Utah lost 103-100 to Chicago in a game where the Jazz had a number of miscues in the final minute or two of play that ultimately cost them the game.

With 1:28 to play, Donovan Mitchell drove into the lane for a lay-up that cut Chicago's lead to 98-96. A few seconds later, former Providence College star Kris Dunn hit a 17-foot, step-back jumper that gave the Bulls a four-point cushion.

"We've got to play better on the defensive end," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said after the game. "We've been here before, as far as the ball not going in. We have to be more stingy."

Especially against a Celtics team that's coming off its most complete offensive game of the season, which is even more impressive when you consider they did so without Al Horford (rest), who has been instrumental at both ends of the floor.

"Well, that was the only way we were going to win, the way we were guarding and rebounding," said coach Brad Stevens. "We played with very good purpose, good authority on offense, and all that stuff."

They'll need to do more of the same tonight against a Utah Jazz team that, like the Celtics, ranks among the league's best defensive units. Boston's defensive rating of 100.3 is tops in the NBA, while the Jazz have a defensive efficiency of 102.1 (fifth-best).

Boston is expected to welcome Horford back tonight, but it's unlikely the same can be said for Marcus Morris (left knee), who has missed the last three games for Boston.

Regardless of who is in the lineup, the Celtics have been a ‘next man up' team all season which has been among the reasons why they have been among the NBA's best teams all season.

"We're trying to find that consistent base where we can just be consistent base where we can just be consistent throughout the whole season," said Jaylen Brown. "We've got to come out and play. I think that's what Brad says all the time. He preaches the difference between being good and great is consistency, so that's one of the things we strived to get better at."


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