Utah Jazz at Boston Celtics
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
BOSTON – The Boston Celtics have followed up a difficult road trip with a pair of home wins and can sweep the three-game stay at TD Garden with a win over the visiting Utah Jazz on Saturday. Behind a 43-point performance from Kyrie Irving, the Celtics raced past the Toronto Raptors in overtime 123-116 in a Friday night thriller.
Boston’s star point guard said at the tail end of the 1-4 road trip that it would serve as a wake-up call for his squad, and he saw a much more assertive team in the statement win over the Raptors. “Any time we get to the rim like that, in any game, that’s when our runs start,” he told reporters after the Celtics shot a season-high 52.8 percent from the field. “Obviously we can get some great 3s in transition but when we’re attacking the rim and getting to the free-throw line we’re a totally different team.” The Jazz handed Boston one of its four losses on the recent road trip with a 123-115 decision in Salt Lake City last Friday. They have lost two in a row and are 1-2 on a five-game trip of their own after Friday’s 113-107 loss at Philadelphia.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain (Utah), NBCS Boston
ABOUT THE JAZZ (7-8): Despite Friday’s loss, Utah at least provided a competitive effort following its ugly 118-68 setback at Dallas two nights earlier. Donovan Mitchell led the way with 31 points but he needed 35 shots to get there and had zero assists. The second-year star is shooting 33.3 percent — including 3-of-22 from beyond the arc — over a four-game stretch, during which he has as many assists (12) as turnovers.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (9-6): Irving is averaging 28.5 points over his last eight games and is enjoying a three-game stretch in which he’s averaging eight assists and 3.3 steals. He became just the third Celtic to have at least 40 points and 10 assists (joining Larry Bird and Antoine Walker) in the win over the Raptors, calling his trip to the zone “peaceful,” and surpassed the 10,000-point mark for his career. Jayson Tatum has a long way to go to reach such a milestone but he has posted an average of 20.8 points over a four-game stretch while making 13-of-25 3-pointers.
1. Jazz PF Derrick Favors made all five of his shot attempts in the win over the Celtics and did the same in Friday’s loss at Philadelphia.
2. Celtics SF Gordon Hayward, who had 13 points and seven assists in his return to Utah last week, produced 15 points and a season high-tying four steals against Toronto.
3. PG Ricky Rubio scored 22 points to lead Utah to a win in its one visit to Boston last season.