Pregame Post-Ups: Stevens Says Crowder in Utah is "Perfect" Fit

Wednesday, March 28 - Celtics at Jazz

Pregame – Stevens Says Crowder in Utah is "Perfect" Fit

SALT LAKE CITY – Cleveland never seemed to embrace Jae Crowder. Salt Lake City, on the other hand, has welcomed him with open arms.

That’s exactly what Brad Stevens expected when he heard about the trade deal involving Crowder back on Feb. 8.

“When Jae got traded here,” Stevens said Wednesday in Salt Lake City, “I thought that this was going to be perfect.”

The numbers support Stevens’ claim.

Crowder is averaging more points (15.1 to 12.2), rebounds (5.0 to 4.6) and assists (2.1 to 1.6) per 36 minutes in 19 games with Utah than he did during 53 games with Cleveland. His team has been more successful, too, as Utah has won 15 of the 19 games in which he has played for them.

Brad Stevens credits Crowder’s seamless implementation, as well as that of fellow former Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko, to coaching. Stevens holds Utah head coach Quin Snyder in high regard.

“I think the Jazz are expertly coached,” commented Stevens. “I think all those guys are put in great positions to soar with their strengths. I think Quin is one of the brightest guys around.”

In Jerebko’s case, he is also a player of whom Celtics fans have fond memories. He was a very good role player for the C’s during his two-plus seasons with the team. In Utah, under Snyder, he has been even better.

Jerebko’s field goal percentage of 44.8 percent is a higher mark than he ever recorded with the Celtics. His 3-point percentage of 39.9 percent is also well ahead of the mark he set during his time with the C’s, which was 37.7 percent on 302 attempts. Jerebko has already set career highs in 3-point makes (55) and attempts (138) this season, all while averaging slightly less playing time per game than he averaged a season ago with Boston.

Jerebko has clearly found a comfortable home in Utah throughout this season, and since the trade deadline, Crowder has, too. These two players were key ingredients to Boston’s success the last two seasons, and now they’re playing similar roles for a red-hot Jazz team.

“Those guys are winners,” Stevens said.

Crowder, Jerebko and the Jazz have been playing outstanding basketball for months now, and they will certainly pose great challenges tonight to Boston. The good news for the Celtics, though, is that they know those two players as well as anyone, so they may know what it will take to slow them down.

- Marc D'Amico