On the final game of a tough 5-game west coast road trip, the Celtics faced up to the league leading 19-5 Utah Jazz at Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City. The Jazz have stifled opposing teams all season, led by excellent rim-protector Rudy Gobert, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year. Offensively the Jazz have been paced by alpha scoring option Donovan Mitchell all season long on a respectable 23.5 ppg.
The Jazz have returned from their own three-game east coast road trip. Boston’s Jaylen Brown hit on his first straight away triple and then had a shake and bake on Joe Ingles to nail his second straight triple of the game. Brown came into the game fired up after missing two-straight for the Celtics as he hit hit again from the top of the key scoring Boston’s first 9 points of the game.
Celtics came out hot hitting on 7-9 as a team as they held the early lead with Semi Ojeleye the first one off the bench for Boston and he hit on his own three-pointer with rookie Payton Pritchard would also chipping in with one of his own.
In a rare sight this season, 3,900 fans would be allowed into the arena in Salt Lake City albiet socially distanced. Jaylen Brown would be the best player for Boston through one as he looked to attack off the dribble in addition to his outside shooting and had 11 points to start as Boston led 27-24 lead.
Jayson Tatum would look to get more involved in the second period as the All-Star forward looked inside to get himself going. Boston’s bench as has been the case many times throughout the year spluttered and struggled with Rudy Gobert lurking in the painted area. his presence was enough to trouble certain makes from both Grant Williams and Jayson Tatum.
With the starters returning a massive Grant Williams block midway through the second quarter on Derrick Favours got the Celtics bench out of their seats.
The very next play Jaylen Brown had a pretty drive and floater over three outstretched Jazz hands. A play later Jaylen found a seam and drove on Favours and switched it to his left for the and-1 drive all in one motion. Brown would lead all scorers at the half with 20 points but Boston struggled to find willing scoring help as Kemba Walker’s struggles continued with just 3 points and Jayson Tatum contributed 8 first-half points as the Jazz led 48-47.
The Jazz came into the game the number 1 team in 3rd quarters with a league leading offensive rating of 126 to start the season. Joe Ingles opened up for a nice finger roll drive for the Jazz before a timely Daniel Theis three-pointer for Boston. Following that triple, Daniel Theis would now be shooting 45% from outside the three-point line for the year.
An errant decision from Tristan Thompson would hand Donovan Mitchell a 4-point play as the Celtics big man got into the Jazz guards space on the release. The Jazz would open up an eight point lead as Boston couldn’t get much of anything going with Kemba and Jayson going for just 4-20 from the field whilst Boston was getting smacked down as Utah had 10 offensive rebounds through three quarters.
The Boston Celtics currently rank 25th in 3rd quarter defense and the club gave up 42 points. O’Neale was hot for the Jazz and Donovan Mitchell was getting fired up for Utah, Jordan Clarkson had reached peak irrational confidence as Utah led by 11 points at the end of the 3rd quarter.
With Boston heading into the final quarter they ended the third like they just wanted to go home on the first plane out of town, Jayson Tatum though, to his credit pushed to keep Boston in the game. The Celtics forward would end the game with 23 points and 15 alone in the final quarter.
Daniel Theis calmly hit on his fifth three pointer of the game as Utah called a timeout as the C’s pulled back within 8. With JT pushing the Celtics forward, Jaylen Brown got in on the action kniving through the key as Boston climbed back to 4, Brown would have 33 points (12-20 fromt he field) and 8 boards. With Boston scrapping to get back into the game, Daniel Theis would collect his sixth foul and leave the game early with 5 minutes and change.
With Theis out, Rudy Gobert inadvertently hit Thompson to the face and the Celtics big man stepped up and hit 1 of 2 free throws before Joe Ingles drained yet another three pointer. The Jazz would end the game with 17 points and responded to every Boston challenge on all the critical plays. Boston now move to 12-11 on the season, they will now face the Raptors on Thursday.