Celtics-Jazz Preview


The Boston Celtics have found ways to win despite their struggles on the boards, but that hasn't been the case during their current road trip.

Stopping that trend doesn't figure to be easy against the Utah Jazz, who held a sizable rebounding advantage in the first meeting.

The Jazz will try to make it 13 wins in 15 home games on Monday night when they take on a slumping Boston team that looks to salvage the finale of its five-game trip.

While the Celtics (29-27) ran off a season-best seven straight victories after star point guard Rajon Rondo went down with a torn ACL on Jan. 25, six of those wins came at home. That streak ended with a 94-91 loss at Charlotte on Feb. 11 and they have dropped four of five on the road following Sunday's 92-86 defeat at Portland.

"It was one of those 'my bad' games,'' coach Doc Rivers said. "We just had so many of those 'My faults' where we lost sight of guys. We didn't finish any quarter right.''

Now Rivers' club looks to end the trip with its fifth straight win against the Jazz, who have only lost twice at home since the start of 2013.

The Celtics have a winning record despite ranking near the bottom of the NBA in rebounding margin (minus-3.9), and pulled out a 98-93 victory over Utah on Nov. 14 despite getting outrebounded by 15.

Boston, however, hasn't been able to overcome its shortcomings on the glass lately. The Celtics have been outrebounded by 32 in the three losses during their current road swing, but held a 45-40 edge against Phoenix in their only win.

Utah (31-25), meanwhile, has a plus-2.4 rebounding margin while winning 12 of 14 in Salt Lake City since Jan. 2.

Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap combined for 33 points and 26 rebounds in the first meeting against the Celtics, but had 35 and six, respectively, in a 107-94 road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. The Jazz were outscored 36-20 in the third quarter as their three-game winning streak ended.

"We gave them too many easy shots and turned the ball over too many times, and you can't give teams that confidence in the third quarter,'' Jefferson said.

Gordon Hayward has totaled 40 points in two games back from a shoulder injury, including a game-high 23 on Saturday. Starters Randy Foye, Jamaal Tinsley and Marvin Williams, though, will try to bounce back after combining for no points on 0-of-9 shooting.

After making just 3 for 26 from 3-point range in their last two road games, the Jazz look to get back on track at home, where they've hit 17 of 40 in consecutive wins over Oklahoma City and Golden State. They also made 7 of 15 in the earlier meeting against the Celtics.

Boston had its own trouble from beyond the arc on Sunday, shooting 2 for 13 as the Trail Blazers stopped a seven-game losing streak.

Paul Pierce had 23 points, eight assists and seven rebounds after averaging 13.0 points on 33.3 percent shooting in his previous five games. He also led the way with 23 against the Jazz in November for his fourth consecutive 20-point game in this series.

Kevin Garnett returned to action following his day off against the Suns and finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.

The Celtics averaged 105.0 points in their first seven games without Rondo, but have scored 91.7 in the last six.