The Boston Celtic made it three straight and raised their record to a respectable 5-3 beating the Utah Jazz at the Garden 98-93. The Celtics won three of the four quarters with the Jazz taking the first one 25-20. Boston managed the win with the help of key reserves as they started to look more like a team.
In the last game, which was against the Bulls, Paul Pierce’s shot went cold. Last night Pierce was on fire as he knocked in 23 points (7-17 FG; 3-7 3PT; 6-7 FT) and had 2 steals and 1 block. Getting Pierce back on target was good news for the Celtics as was the fact that some guys off the bench had a big night.
There was some much needed scoring off the bench as PF Jeff Green put in 16 points and SG Leandro Barbosa also hit for 16. Starter Rajon Rondo, who sprained his ankle in the third, kept his streak of 10 or more assists a game alive and at 32 games as he was good for 10 of them. Rondo had an off night shooting as he went 3 for 9 (6 points total). Rondo is day-to-day.
Defense and ORB
The Celtic defense was very good. They had 8 steals, 4 blocks and 9 turnovers for 17 points. But a troubling area was offensive rebounding. The Celtics has just 4 while the Jazz grabbed 18. Four ORBs equals four additional shots. That’s bad news. The Celtics need more muscle inside and also have to position themselves better on the offensive boards. Doing so can result in 5 to 10 more points per game and those points are needed.
Good News Continues
Although Rondo sprained his ankle and the Celts had a tough time on the offensive boards, there’s a lot of good news. The team is on a roll and playing well. The bench is offering solid, productive minutes and starters are doing a good job of picking up the slack when someone has a bad night. Power forward Kevin Garnett’s numbers are down a bit, but it is the start of the season and they will probably pick up. Still, he’s offering quality play and even though his productivity is reduced a bit, it’s still premium all the way.
The Celtics play the Brooklyn Nets (4-2) tonight. A win on the road will put them in second place in the division just behind the Knicks who are at 5-0.