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Celtics welcome Jonas Jerebko and the Utah Jazz to TD Garden

Gordon Hayward’s former team makes it’s only visit to the TD Garden this season.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics host the Utah Jazz for the first of 2 games this season. They will meet again in Utah on March 28. The Celtics won the series 2-0 last season and have beaten the Jazz 9 straight in Boston. Gordon Hayward was the high scorer for the Jazz in both games last season. The last time the Jazz won in Boston was March 14, 2008.

The Jazz are 0-2 at the start of a 6 game road trip. The Celtics are looking for their second straight win while the Jazz are hoping to break a 4 game losing streak. The Celtics are 9-1 vs Western Conference teams and the Jazz are 5-6 vs the East. The Celtics are 13-2 at home. The Jazz are 2-10 on the road.

Jonas Jerebko is returning to the Garden for the first time since signing with the Jazz this summer after spending 3 1/2 seasons with the Celtics. He should get a warm welcome. This would have been Gordon Hayward's first game against the team that drafted him and where he played for his first 7 seasons in the league. Hopefully he will get to catch up with some of his former teammates before and after the game.

Al Horford should be back in the lineup after resting for a game against the Nuggets. Marcus Morris is still out with knee soreness and Gordon Hayward is out with the ankle injury. For the Nuggets, Raul Neto is out with a head injury and Dante Exum is out with a shoulder injury. Joe Johnson will return after sitting out the last 21 games with a wrist injury. Rodney Hood returned to their lineup on Wednesday after sitting out 7 games with an ankle injury.

Abdel Nader and Guerschon Yabusele played on Thursday with the Red Claws and at this time, I'm not sure if they will be back with the Celtics for this game. Tony Bradley is on assignment with the Jazz’ G-League team. I am guessing that the Celtics will start their usual lineup with Irving, Brown, Tatum, Horford and Baynes. I've listed the Jazz starting lineup that is given in their game notes.

Probable Celtics Starters

PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Aron Baynes

Celtics Reserves
ShAane Larkin
Abdel Nader
Semi Ojeleye
Daniel Theis
Guerschon Yabusele
Terry Rozier
Marcus Smart

Marcus Morris (knee) out
Gordon Hayward (ankle) out

Two Way Players
Kadeem Allen
Jabari Bird

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Probable Jazz Starters

PG: Ricky Rubio
SG: Donovan Mitchell
SF: Joe Ingles
PF: Derrick Favors
C: Rudy Gobert

Jazz Reserves
Tony Bradley
Alec Burks
Rodney Hood
Jonas Jerebko
Joe Johnson
Royce O'Neal
Thabo Sefolosha
Ekpe Udoh

Raul Neto (head) out
Dante Exum (shoulder) out
Joe Johnson (wrist) will play

Two Way Players
Eric Griffin
Nate Wolters

Head Coach
Quin Snyder

Key Matchups

Jaylen Brown vs Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell has been a very impressive rookie for the Jazz so far. He is the only rookie with three 30+ point games (41, 31, and 32). He is leads all rookies with 17.8 points per game along with 3.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He has the most 3 pointers for a rookie with 66 and the most 20+ point games as a rookie with 12. Brown's size and defense will hopefully slow him down somewhat.

Aron Baynes vs Rudy Gobert
The 7'1" Gobert has a height advantage over Baynes but Baynes should have a strength advantage that he can hopefully use to keep him away from the basket somewhat. Gobert is averaging 12.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. He averaged 11 points, 13 rebounds and 1.5 blocks against the Celtics last season.

Honorable Mention
Al Horford vs Derrick Favors
Favors is averaging 12.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Horford should be well rested after sitting out Wednesday's game. Last season Favors averaged 9 points and 6 rebounds against the Celtics.

Keys to the Game
Rebound - Much of rebounding is effort and when the Celtics put out that effort on the boards, we see it in the other areas of their game. The Celtics are averaging 44.8 rebounds per game (10th) while the Jazz are averaging 40.3 rebounds per game (26th). The Celtics were out rebounded 48-30 against the Nuggets and were lucky to get the win, in spite of being out-rebounded by 18. However, they won't win many games when they lose the rebounding battle by that much.

Take Care of the Ball - The Celtics have to take care of the ball, make smart passes, and limit their turnovers. The Jazz are 5th in the league, averaging 19.1 points off of turnovers and the Celtics don't want to give them extra points by getting careless with the ball. The Jazz are also 2nd with 9.5 steals a game. It will be important for the Celtics to keep their focus and not turn the ball over and get careless with the ball.

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics can't afford to dig a hole at the beginning of the game and they can't let up at the end and lose focus and miss shots and allow the Jazz to score. They also can't afford those periods in the game where they turn the ball over and lose their focus. They have to play hard from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

Defense - Defense is the key to winning each and every game. The Celtics must play the swarming team defense that we saw from them to begin the season. The Celtics are still the team with the best defensive rating, however, they have been letting their defense slip in recent games and their defensive rating is up to 100.3. The Jazz are also a good defensive team with a defensive rating of 102.1, good for 6th in the league. Defense wins games and the Celtics must get back to playing that tough swarming TEAM defense that was their trademark to start the season.

Home Factor - The Celtics played pretty good at home this season with a 13-2 record. On the other hand, the Jazz have struggled on the road winning just 2 out of 12 road games. The Celtics need to draw motivation from the home crowd and play harder in the friendly confines of the TD Garden.

Motivation - I'm sure the Jazz have had this game circled ever since Gordon Hayward signed with the Celtics this summer. Hayward's former teammates, especially Gobert, were upset that he left the Jazz and will likely be extra motivated to beat the team he signed with. Hayward said he wants to catch up with his former teammates but also that he hopes to beat them by 40. So, the Celtics should be motivated to win one for their injured teammate against his former team.