Utah (6-6): 123- Boston (7-5): 115
Jayson Tatum: 21 PTS 3 REB 4 AST 5 STL
Terry Rozier: 22 PTS 6 REB 3 AST
Marcus Smart: 13 PTS 3 REB 10 AST 2 STL
Joe Ingles: 27 PTS (Career High) 5 REB 7 AST 1 STL/BLK
Jae Crowder: 20 PTS 6 REB 4 AST 1 STL/BLK
Rudy Gobert: 17 PTS 15 REB 2 AST 2 BLK
Gordon Hayward was greeted by his former fans with boos in his first game back in Utah at Vivint Smart Home Arena. They were pretty deliberate about it too as Hayward got booed from the moment he stepped on the court in pregame warmups all the way to the final buzzer. From the jump it was a hostile atmosphere and felt like a playoff game. While it wasn’t an amazing game by Hayward hit a couple of threes and put up a line of 13 points and 7 assists as he facilitated the offense well when he was called upon. Early on the Celtics seemed to have found their footing. Led by Jayson Tatum in the first half they went back and forth with the Jazz. The ball moved and they got a myriad of open looks and were knocking them down early.
This game however, was about Joe Ingles and Jae Crowder. Ingles came out on fire as he was a catalyst in giving the Jazz the lead and stretching it out before the half. He was 8-9 from the floor and 4-5 from three in the first half as the Celtics had no answers for him on the outside. He even went on a three point run hitting 3 straight to close the first half and propel the Jazz to a 58-51 lead entering the break. Crowder, on the other hand, picked up his buckets in the second half as he had 14 on 6-9 from the floor and 2-4 from three which included the proverbial dagger late in the fourth. They both contributed timely baskets and made it difficult on the Celtic defenders as they really spread the floor well while their shots were falling.
After keeping it close in the first half things fell apart for Boston in the 3rd quarter. Utah kept forcing the issue and coupled with some poor rotations by the Celtics saw themselves in the bonus 5 minutes into the quarter. The Jazz took advantage as they slowly but surely increased the lead from the line eventually stretching it out to an 83-63 lead. Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors wrecked havoc on the Celtics in the paint as Boston had no answers. Gobert patrolled the paint on both ends and when he and Favors were on the court at the same time it was a house of horrors for the Celtics. Utah won the rebounding matchup in a lopsided fashion (45-28) and it was apparent the Celtics had nothing they could do about the size. Especially in the 4th as they gave up 4 crucial offensive rebounds (all to Favors) which led to 7 second chance points and set the Celtics back.
The Celtics wouldn’t quit as early in the fourth they went on an 11-4 run to tighten things up at 98-91. Marcus Smart led the charge with 10 points and few 3s to lead the Celtics back. It was an example of a “Marcus Smart takes bad shots but makes them” game (4-9 from three) and it spearheaded their comeback efforts. His ability to get guys open and make the right play was on display as well as he dropped 10 dimes and made his teammates better. Terry Rozier also showed out as he had 9 of his own in the quarter and was a key for the Celtics in this one. Things got as close to 111-107 but the Jazz wouldn’t let this game get away from them. A couple of costly missed layups right at the rim by Tatum opened the door for the Jazz to ice it. Jae Crowder proved to be the closer hitting a 3-point dagger from the corner to ice the game and set the arena into hysteria. In another frustrating effort the Celtics came up short and the Jazz spoiled Hayward’s return just as they’d planned.
- While they didn’t get blown out as I said they would if they played like they did against Phoenix this wasn’t much better. Yes, they came back and had a chance to win but that isn’t the point. The Jazz aren’t the Suns and they shut the door on Boston and made the Celtic’s 3rd quarter lull their ultimate detriment in this one.
- A 45-28 disadvantage on the glass is a key figure to look at as well. It was clear that the Jazz could do whatever they wanted to in the paint. Not only on the rebounding side but scoring and on defense as well. Horford looked overmatched by Gobert and never got into any sort of rhythm. Favors preyed on the second unit and established himself as a force in the lane. Baynes has been solid but still the Celtics are missing Daniel Theis and hopefully he can get back sooner rather than later to help down low.
- Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart delivered in the absence of Kyrie Irving. Rozier played within himself and gave the Celtics a lift while Smart facilitated at a high level and hit some threes. They both played to their strengths and without these two there would’ve been no comeback.
- Open shooters, guys getting lost on pick and rolls, poor rebounding, and spotty help all attributed to the Celtics giving up 123 points. Usually the defense isn’t the issue which is what was disappointing in last night’s effort. Ingles and Crowder both got going off of open looks and from there it was history. The issues in the paint were also empirical as they continued to get overpowered by Utah’s bigs and looked helpless against them.
Player of the Game: Joe Ingles
Other than Crowder’s game sealing three and other moments late the most important stretch in the game for Utah was courtesy of Ingles. To close the first half after being down 48-46 Ingles made things happen. In what seemed like 10 seconds Ingles cashed in on 3 bombs to help the Jazz gain the lead they never gave back. The Celtics gave him a little bit of daylight and he knew what to do with it. The Jazz are a whole different animal when he’s hitting from the outside and it makes their offense go. When his threes are falling the paint opens up for Donovan Mitchell to slash to the rim and gives Gobert/Favors the opportunity to establish the inside game with inside-out action. For a man who looks like your plumber he’s a cold-blooded killer from long range and he showed it last night.
The Celtics finish up their road-trip Sunday 11/11 in Portland as they take on the Trailblazers at 9:00 PM ET.
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