David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
By Patrick Whalen
It was another frustrating lose for the Celtics last night in Utah as they fell to the Jazz by a score of 123-115. The problem tonight was that Celtics defense that this team apparently takes pride in. Well that same defense aslo gave up 123 points to the Jazz on 56% shooting from the field. They also allowed 6 players to score double digit points including 3 at 20+ points (Basketball-Reference.com). Donavan Mitchel had 21, Jae Crowder had 20 off the bench and Joe Ingles torched the Celtic defense for 27 points on 10-14 shooting and 5-9 from 3. The defense was so bad that the Celtics only had 4 players whos plus minus was not negative and that included Tatum whose plus minus was at 0.
Before the game even started the Celtics knew that it was going to be a tough game for them to win as they were without Kyrie Irving, who has been a monster offensively since he got his haircut, as he was away attending his grandfathers memorial services (Kevin Smith Yahoo Sports). That left an offensive hole to fill and Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier steped up. Tatum went for 21 points on 50% shooting while Rozier, who started in place of the absent Irving, went for 22 points on 54% shooting including 5-8 from 3. The Celts also got some needed help from the bench as Marcus Morris continued his solid play of late with 16 points and Marcus Smart went for a double double with 13 points and 10 assists. But the other staters did not step up in Irvings absence as Al Horford and Gordon Hayward only scored 13 points each and Jaylen Brown only scored 9 points while shooting 4-17 from the field (Basketball-Reference.com).
But again the offense wasn’t so much the issue as the defense and rebounding. The Celtics main problem on defense last night was that they were giving up way too many open looks which led to Donavan Mitchell being the only double digit scorer to shoot below 50% as he shot 36%. The next lowest out of the double digit scorers, Jae Crowder at 53%. The Celtics also got dominated on the boards as the Jazz out rebounded them 45-28 (Basketball-Reference.com).
In the fourth the Celtics were able to fight back and cut the lead to 4 after trailing by as many as 20 after Marcus Smart burried a 3.
But that would be as close as the Celtics would get as the Jazz were just too good offensivley. The other higlight the Celtics had last night was one of Jaylen Brown’s 4 buckets as he posterized Rudy Gobert and stared him down.
And for everyone whos complaining saying that you can’t stare someone down when you’re down 20 just shut up, you sound like the old guys that complain about bat flips in baseball. Jaylen went up and posterized a highly regared shot blocker in Rudy Gobert he can stare him down. Now stop your whining and join us in the 21st century where its cool and aceptable to do that.
Also last night was a big night for one Gordon Hayward as he played his first game in Utah since leaving for Boston. Hayward was Utah’s 9th overall pick back in 2010. Hayward played 7 season for the Jazz making the playoffs in 2010, 2016, and 2017 and made his first all star team with them in 2017. Of course thought after signing with Boston in the summer of 2017 the Jazz fans rained boos down on their former star.
Hayward, still working his way back from last years season ending leg injury, had an average night in his return scoring 13 points on 3-9 shooting with 7 assists (Basketball-Reference.com). Hayward has obisously had this game marked on his calendar since the schedule came out and said, “it was fun and good to see everybody” (NBC Sports Boston).
But in the end this team needs to pick it up on the defensive end esspecially now since the East has become even stronger at the top with the Sixers aquirring Jimmy Butler. If the Celtics want to make it to the finals they need to get back to playing that shut down team defense they had last year.