That’s a pretty hefty line considering the Jazz had won nine of their last 12 games coming in, but sportsbooks clearly saw the Celtics’ 16-0 home record and two days off as an insurmountable hurdle for the plucky Utah team.
And from the jump, that hurdle hit them right in the shin. The Celtics stormed out to a 10-0 lead, with Jazz Head Coach—and former Celtics Assistant Coach—Will Hardy refusing to take a timeout to force his guys to figure it out. Remind you of anyone?
Eventually, Hardy was forced to call one after his team’s defense more resembled Swiss cheese than any coherent basketball strategy. The Jazz switched to a zone midway through the first quarter, essentially accepting that their chances of guarding the Celtics dribble drives one-on-one were pretty much zero.
Zones work well against teams that don’t understand how to break them down or when employed by a team with extreme discipline. But they also have a tendency to give up wide open threes, which the Jazz seemed more or less open to if it shored up the paint.
Nevertheless, the Celtics rolled out to a 30-15 lead after the first quarter on a buzzer-beating three by Jrue Holiday. It was a very chill start, with the Jazz failing to win the three-point variance battle significantly enough to fill the 10-0 hole.
The second quarter started off… exactly the same, with another 10-0 Celtics run. You could feel the fans starting to yawn and settle into their seats. Maybe this will be a conversation game, thought everyone in the arena, ready to loosen up with some refreshments and make friends with the guy sitting next to them.
I wonder what the story behind her Jonas Jerebko jersey is? Check out Kelly Olynyk’s headband! I wonder if any celebrities are sitting courtside… is that the moderately famous rapper Akon?
Oh, there’s a game going on? The Celtics are up by HOW MUCH? 36?! And it’s still the second quarter? Man oh man.
The Jazz were pretty incapable of scoring for most of the second quarter, not even cracking 20 total points until about five minutes to go in the half. That’s just not going to cut it, and while some more shots started falling towards the end of the half, the initial pit they had dug themselves in had become a sinkhole.
The Celtics’ defensive switching and intensity put the Jazz in a rough spot. They couldn’t even get within the 20-foot line, let alone into the paint, making contested threes or hopeless drives their best options. This resulted in a 71-40 Celtics lead at the half. Not bad.
The third quarter wasn’t exactly a different story, with the Jazz players coming out of the locker room as demoralized as you would expect them to be. They were down 30 before they finished tying their shoes, so it’s understandable that it would be hard to fight tooth and nail to come back.
The Jazz made essentially no overtures into the lead in the third quarter, consigning the game to the loss column with around four minutes to go in the period. Jayson Tatum subbed out and immediately looked ready to put his feet up, and the Celtics slowly removed their starters from the fray before the legacy of this game became a season-altering injury.
The main reason for the Jazz’s loss was a complete lack of three-point scoring. When you’re overmatched in the talent department, you better hit some threes. The Jazz lost that battle convincingly, and the Celtics ran away with it with crisp execution and relentless play for 32 minutes, making the 16 a moot point.
With every starter out of the game with three minutes to go in the third, the rest wasn’t much to speak of, so here’s a list of fun things from the broadcast as the Celtics’ home win streak extended to 17-0:
1. “All this rookie of the year talk, Chet or Wemby. If Porzingis was a rookie he’d win it” - Brian Scalabrine
2. Someone at NBC Sports Boston left their cursor on the screen when putting up a graphic, which may or may not have been intentional
3. Mike Gorman and Scalabrine began an in-depth discussion of the New York Knicks’ big-man depth and injury situation
4. Talen Horton-Tucker activated his Kobe Bryant-bag and attempted several extremely difficult post fades with varying degrees of success, before hitting a crazy Michael Jordan-esque scoop and-one
5. Former Maine Celtic Luka Samanic tossed a euro-step-spin-pass that ended up in the sixth row
See you all tomorrow night for the Pacers!