Watch It! - Jazz at Celtics
Here are five things to watch out for during tonight’s game between the Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz at TD Garden.
Another Big Frontline
We’ve heard for a couple of years now that the NBA doesn’t have true frontlines. Tell that to the Boston Celtics, who will face their third consecutive opponent that possesses a powerful pack of big men.
Boston dealt with true power forwards and centers in Detroit and Memphis over the weekend with mixed results. First, it allowed Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond to rack up 45 points and 29 rebounds on Sunday. The C’s improved their defense up front on Monday, limiting Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol to a total of 29 points and 15 rebounds.
“I thought we were pretty good post defensive-wise. We were okay in the post one-on-one, for sure,” Brad Stevens said.
Stevens’ big men will need to duplicate that effort tonight against the likes of Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. Both of those big men are nearly averaging a double-double this season and are a handful down low.
Cut the Turnovers
The Celtics have been pretty coherent on offense and defense this season in terms of field goal percentages. The one area where they truly need to improve is turnovers.
Boston has turned it over an average of 21 times per game thus far. That’s the highest rate in the league through the first week of the season.
“Our biggest thing right now is turning the ball over,” said Stevens. “There’s no question about it. If we don’t do that we’re going to have a better chance of winning."
Utah isn’t great at forcing turnovers, so the C’s might see a drop in that category tonight. That won’t win the game for Boston, but it will certainly give the team a better chance at grabbing a win.
The Celtics need to finish. As in finish the game.
There’s a reason why they’ve had a great opportunity to win all four of their games thus far. Boston has played solid basketball for the majority of all of those games. The problem, however, is that they’ve been outscored in the fourth quarter by an average of 10.8 points through four games.
How do they reverse that trend? First and foremost, they need to maintain the level of team play that they usually display throughout the first three quarters. If they do that, their turnovers should decrease and their offense should become much more efficient. That would allow them to finish this game in much better fashion.
Green on the Post
Jeff Green spent the first four seasons of his career as a power forward. He might want to turn the clock back to those days tonight against Gordon Hayward.
Hayward and Green are both tweeners who are currently starting at shooting guard for their respective teams. Green, however, has much more of a forward body compared to Hayward. He has a 15-pound advantage on Utah’s young star. Additionally, Green has much more experience playing around the basket.
Hayward has only defended one post-up play this season, according to Synergy Sports. On the other hand, Green has dominated on the post while ranking in the 88th percentile of the league in terms of points per possession on such plays. Green should take note of these facts and try to take advantage of them tonight.
Key pieces on both teams will need to do their best to contain their emotions tonight. Boston’s head coach, Stevens, and Utah’s shooting guard, Hayward, will be facing off against each other for the first time.
That fact may sound unemotional to those who don’t watch college basketball. To everyone else, this is obviously a difficult situation for both men.
Stevens and Hayward together put Butler University on the map. They were the faces of the program when Butler made its first appearance in the NCAA title game in 2010. The pair has been close ever since, even as Hayward jumped onto the map in Utah and Stevens continued coaching the Bulldogs.
These two are tight, but they’ll be enemies tonight. That’s going to be an unfamiliar feeling that both Stevens and Hayward will need to get over quickly.