UTAH JAZZ (22-13)
at BOSTON CELTICS (20-14)
Tip-off: Tuesday, 7:35 p.m. ET
Line: Boston -6.0, Total: 201.0
The Jazz will be going for their fifth straight win when they face the Celtics in Boston on Tuesday.
The Jazz are hot right now, as they have now won four straight games and 14 of their last 20. They played the Nets in Brooklyn last night and won that game 101-89 as six-point road favorites. It has been Utahís defense that has been winning the team games, as the Jazz have held each of their past three opponents to less than 45.0% shooting from the floor. They have also outrebounded their opponents in five of the last six games, and the one other game was even on the glass. The Celtics, meanwhile, have now won seven of their past nine, and they have scored at least 112 points in six of their past seven. Each of their past seven games have gone Over the total, but theyíre also facing a Jazz team that has gone Under in four straight. Something will have to give in this one, but it was the Jazz that dictated the tempo when these teams played in Boston last season. The Celtics won that game 100-95 as five-point favorites, but the game went Under and Boston had to grind it out. A similar type of game can be expected on Tuesday. One trend that stands out when looking at this game is the fact that the Celtics are 26-11 ATS after a game where they made 12 or more threes over the past three seasons. PG George Hill (Concussion) is questionable for Utah in this one, and the Jazz would be in trouble if he canít go on Tuesday. They are already without PG Dante Exum (Knee), so theyíd be thin at the point guard position. For Boston, PG Marcus Smart (Illness) and C Tyler Zeller (Illness) are questionable.
The Jazz are playing some great basketball at the moment and SF Gordon Hayward (22.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.0 SPG) is currently having the best season of his career. Hayward has been unstoppable recently, averaging 24.4 PPG on 51.3% shooting from the floor and 43.5% shooting from the outside. Heíll need to play well in order for the Jazz to win this game, but he should have no problem doing so. C Rudy Gobert (12.6 PPG, 12.1 RPG, 2.6 BPG) will also be counted on to play at a high level in this one. Gobert has been a monster this season, as he is defending the rim as well as ever and has also improved his game offensively. He rarely misses around the basket, as evidenced by his 69.2% shooting from the floor. He also is no longer a liability from the charity stripe, shooting 64.7% on the year. If Gobert can shut down Al Horford then itís likely the Jazz will win this one. The team will, however, need some production from the point guard spot. If PG George Hill (18.8 PPG, 4.2 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.2 SPG) canít go then itíll be Shelvin Mack (8.6 PPG, 3.1 APG) that holds down that spot for Utah. Heíll need to come ready to defend, as Utah canít afford to let Isaiah Thomas go off in this game.
Boston has stepped it up recently and is starting to look like the team people expected it to be before the season. PG Isaiah Thomas (27.7 PPG, 6.1 APG) is a huge reason that the Celtics are rolling, as he has emerged as a legitimate superstar for this team. Thomas poured in 52 points on 15-for-26 shooting against Miami last game, and he has also hit 34 free throws in a row. Look for him to get to the line often in this one, as he is extremely quick and knows how to draw fouls. C Al Horford (15.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 4.9 APG, 2.0 BPG) will, however, need to play well on both sides of the floor in this game, and that might be difficult with Gobert on the other side. Horfordís ability to shoot the ball should at least draw Gobert away from the basket. Thatíll allow him to drive to the basket, but it also will give his teammates the opportunity to attack a Gobert-free lane. A last guy that must really be ready to go is SF Jae Crowder (13.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.1 SPG). Crowder will likely be tasked with guarding Hayward in this game, and he needs to keep him in check.