In a Nutshell: Second game of a back to back or not, the Boston Celtics wanted this win, in no small part due to the Utah Jazz having spanked them in Salt Lake City with the home crowd fully motivated by Hayward-hate.
They did not get it. Anyone particularly shocked by this probably shouldn’t be—Boston gave everything and then some to beat Toronto last night, and didn’t have as much left for Utah as they should’ve. But it’s still disheartening, obviously, to see the Jazz beat the Celtics at their own game when the latter’s shots dried up more or less completely.
What Went Well: After a first quarter largely characterized by Utah taking up a real estate claim in the paint and scoring most of their points there, Boston responded positively in the second frame. The signs of simmering Kyrie Irving showed in the first quarter turned into cooking, and the Cs overall seemed better equipped to break through the Jazz defensive assignments (until they couldn’t, which we’ll get to shortly). Utah plays in a physical-heavy manner not dissimilar to Boston, and beating them requires either getting in the muck with them or shooting out their lights.
That aside, the Celtics outscored the Jazz in that second quarter and out-rebounded them the whole game. Given the final result, who wouldn’t trade the latter for doing the former AT ANY POINT DURING THE SECOND HALF, because…
What Went Wrong: Basically everything else, some of which wasn’t within the Celtics’ control (like Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio recovering from recent slumps of awfulness) but a whole lot that was. Most notably:
- 5 -for-33 on three-point attempts, amounting to a whopping 15.2 percent. Overall Boston shot 38.5 percent, not that far behind Utah’s 45 percent…until you take into account that the Jazz took far fewer shots, and were thus picking their spots in a way the Celtics weren’t. Among players to receiving significant minutes, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris and Gordon Hayward had the worst shooting nights, with poor Jaylen taking home this particularly booby prize due to a 1-9 FGM/FGA ratio.
- GOTTA MAKE YA FREE THROWS. Daniel Theis practically summoned the spirit of Nick Anderson by making only one of his four attempts, while Rozier did go full Anderson and missed all three of his FT opportunities. I have no interest in litigating whether Utah unfairly earned more trips to the line than Boston; they didn’t do much better than the Cs but did better enough.
- Third is the word: In recent years, third quarters have been where the league’s best teams put the hurtin’ on their opponents (including the Warriors and the latest iteration of the Raptors) thus invalidating any first-half issues. The Jazz throttled the Celtics in this third quarter on both ends, and while their lead ballooned higher in the fourth, the third is what decided this contest.
- We gotta talk about Gordon: Last night it seemed as if GH had turned a corner, drawing fouls at pivotal moments for key free throws, stealing the ball effortlessly, the jump shot looking reasonable. Tonight…not so much. (The only thing keeping me from advocating at least a temporary sixth-man demotion for him is wondering who the hell to start in his place. Probably SMARF or Mook, but neither of them is Mr. Reliable either, at least from an offensively standpoint.)
GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS
Let’s just close our eyes and let this play remind us of how much ass Kyrie whipped last night:
Great early work by Tatum here:
Uncle Al knocking this Mitchell drive-and-layup attempt into the fourth fucking row: