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Game #64 - Preview: Celtics vs. Jazz

Boston Celtics
Record: 51-12
Last Ten Games: 10-0
Points scored per game: 100.9
Points allowed per game: 90.2   
Pace Factor: 91.4 (16th of 30)
Offensive Rating: 110.0 (10th of 30)
Defensive Rating: 98.4 (1st of 30)

Utah Jazz
Record: 43-23
Last Ten Games: 7-3
Points scored per game: 106.2
Points allowed per game: 100.3
Pace Factor: 94.2 (8th of 30)
Offensive Rating: 112.6 (1st of 30)
Defensive Rating: 106.3 (11th of 30)

Hat tip to basketball-reference.com for info on the Celtics and the Jazz

Rajon Rondo vs. Deron Williams
Ray Allen vs. Ronnie Brewer.
Paul Pierce vs. Andrei Kirilenko
Kevin Garnett vs. Carlos Boozer
Kendrick Perkins vs. Mehmet Okur

Schedule Notes

The Jazz started a 4 game road trip on Tuesday at Chicago and headed to Milwaukee on Wednesday. Utah took Thursday off and tonight's game will be the first of a back-to-back with the second game in Jersey to round out the road trip. Meanwhile, the Celtics played at Philly on Monday and dominated the visiting Sonics on Wednesday. The Celtics have the advantage, mainly because they are home. However, neither team has faced stiff competition in the week leading up to this one.

Last Time They Met

The initial meeting took place in the midst of the  Celtics romp through Sacramento, Seattle, Utah and LA (Lakers) back in December. Boston won by 6 in a game where Paul Pierce went scoreless in the first half and then dropped 24 points on the Jazz after the break. With the win the Celtics moved to 23-5 and the Jazz dropped to 17-17. Since that meeting the Celtics have gone 28-9 and the Jazz have been 26-6. Not too shabby.

Contrasting Decembers

Utah went 5-11 in December with losses to the Bobcats, Hawks, Heat and Blazers (twice). Granted that's back when losing to Portland was not a bad thing and wins over Dallas and Orlando helped put a positive spin on an otherwise dreary month. Still contrast that to the Celtics who went 13-1 with the only loss coming on a pair of Chauncey Billups free throws in the waning seconds of a hard fought game.

Two Stats That Should Terrify Jazz Fans

Utah is 15-20 on the road. Only a 28-3 home record is keeping them in the mix out West. In fact the dismal road record even led to a post on Utah's official team website calling for the team to emulate Karl Malone's physical style of play. Okay. Furthermore, the Jazz gives up 100.3 points per game. Teams that struggle to defend and win on the road often run into trouble, particularly when the playoffs come around.

People Seem to Forget...

The Jazz went to the Western Conference Finals last year. They got bounced by the Spurs 4-1, but were in the final 4.

Match Up I'm Watching

Okur vs. Perk. Both have been playing their best ball of the season of late. And while Okur is better known as a three point shooting center he has been mixing it up down low recently en route to several double doubles. Meanwhile Perk has been dominating the glass, blocking shots and scowling all night long. Will Okur pull Perk away from the paint that he loves so much?

YouTube Magic

"Passin' be an art kid..."