3/6 Game Preview: Jazz at Celtics
The Boston Celtics will be short-handed again as they look to keep their home losing streak from reaching three during a game against the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
On Thursday, the Celtics ruled out forward Gordon Hayward (right knee contusion) and swingman Jaylen Brown (right hamstring strain) for the contest. The duo missed Boston's road win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday after sustaining their injuries in a stunning home loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night.
Point guard Kemba Walker, who was held out Wednesday to rest his ailing left knee on the second night of a back-to-back, was not on Thursday's injury report. He and fellow All-Star Jayson Tatum will carry the load as the Celtics try to avoid their first three-game home losing streak since February 2018.
The Jazz, meanwhile, enter on a three-game winning streak since losing to Boston at home on Feb. 26. The Friday matchup is the third of four games on an Eastern Conference road swing for Utah.
Since that 114-103 setback against the Celtics last week, the Jazz have rebounded to restore order to their place in the Western Conference standings. Utah has beaten three clubs with losing records -- the Washington Wizards, Cleveland and New York Knicks -- as it vies for a top-four seed and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
"No disrespect to the teams we've been playing, but these are games where we should come out on top," Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said after scoring 23 in a 112-104 win over the Knicks on Wednesday. "We have a test coming up against Boston where we've got to keep the same energy. We've got to go out and continue to play the same way against tougher teams."
Mitchell torched the Celtics for 37 points last week in an exhilarating battle with fellow 2017 draftee Tatum, who had 33 points and 11 rebounds in the Boston victory. The two went shot-for-shot during a stretch in the second quarter, leaving both teams with something to marvel about postgame.
"Those two guys are really good, aren't they?" Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "Sometimes I think we over-scrutinize the better players in this league. When you watch them do what those two were doing, not many people can do that."
Tatum was sidelined due to an illness as the Celtics blew a 21-point, third-quarter lead and lost 129-120 in overtime to the Nets in their last home venture. The Eastern Conference Player of the Month for February returned Wednesday and put up 32 points, nine rebounds and six assists in a 112-106 victory over the Cavaliers.
"We could have made excuses because a lot of our guys aren't here, but we don't do that," Tatum said. "I just tried to do my part. It was good to be out there."
Stevens said Wednesday that Brown is expected to miss at least a week while Hayward is considered day-to-day.
The Jazz got key contributions from Bojan Bogdanovic the past three games, as he averaged 24 points after he was limited to three points on 1-of-8 shooting vs. the Celtics.
Boston is 23-7 at home; Utah is 18-13 away.