Boston Celtics (44-11) -2 at Utah Jazz (22-6) +2 10:30 PM ET Thursday February 19, 2009 on TNT
By Jason Green at Predcitem.com
Tonight the Boston Celtics head west to take on the short-handed Utah Jazz. Even though Andrei Kirilenko will play tonight after missing 11 games, Carlos Boozer is still out and even Mehmet Okur may miss the game due to illness. The Jazz are holding onto the 8th spot in the Western Conference, but they will battle in the second half with several legit teams in order to stay in the playoff race. On the other hand the Celtics still hold the number 1 position in the East and Cleveland may be their only competition for the top spot. The Jazz are in 3rd place in the Northwest Division and trail the Denver Nuggets by 6 games, while the Celtics are running way with the Atlantic Division with a comfortable 16 game lead over the Philadelphia 76ers. Both teams are playing well as of late, as the Jazz are 6-4 in their last 10 games and have won 2 in a row and the Celtics are 8-2 in their last 10 and have also won 2 in a row.
This season the Jazz are 22-6 at home and the Celtics are 20-7 in away games.
Tonight is the Celtics first game since before the All Star break, but they won their last game before the break beating the Dallas Mavericks 99-92 last Thursday night, outscoring the Mavs 30-17 in the 4th quarter. The high scorer for the Celtics in that game was Paul Pierce going for 31 points on 9/20 shooting. For the game the Celtics shot 35/72 from the floor for a FG% of 48.6 ppg. On D the Celtics clamped down and held the Mavericks to 32/81 shooting for a FG% of only 39.5%.
BET ON UTAH JAZZ GAMES USING YOUR VISA CARD TO FUND YOUR BETTING
ACCOUNT AT SPORTSINTERACTION
The Jazz come into this big home game after beating the Memphis Grizzlies 117-99 on Tuesday night. The high scorer for the Jazz in that game was C.J. Miles, going for 24 points on 9/15 shooting. For the game the Jazz shot 40/82 for a FG% of 48.8%. On D the Jazz allowed the Grizzlies to shoot 35/75 from the field for a FG% of 46.7%.
This season the Jazz rank 7th in scoring (102.8 ppg) and the Celtics rank 9th (101.3 ppg). Defense is the reason the Celtics are still THE team to beat, ok Lakers as well, as they rank 2nd in points allowed (92 ppg), while the Jazz are only in the middle of the pack ranking 18th (100 ppg). The Celtics are the best rebounding team in the NBA with a rebounding differential of +5.6 rpg, while the Jazz are at a respectable +1.2 rpg.
This season the Celtics are 30-24-1 ATS and the Jazz are 28-26. In terms of Over/under games this season the Celtics are 25-29-1 and the Jazz are 30-22-2.
On the injury front SG Tony Allen and C Brian Scalabrine are Out for the Celtics and Carlos Boozer if Out and C Mehmet Okur and SF Andrei Kirilenko are day-to-day for the Jazz.
It’s a good thing that the Jazz are home tonight with all the injuries they are dealing with. The Jazz are one of the toughest teams to beat at home. Last season the Jazz had the best home record at 37-4, but one of those 4 losses was to the Celtics.
Even with the Big 3 of Ray Allen (17.9 ppg), Paul Pierce (19.9 ppg), and KG (16.4 ppg) the key to the game may be Rajon Rondo (11.2 ppg) and how he plays D on Deron Williams (19.2 ppg). Williams has to score tonight for the Jazz to win, especially if Okur can’t go, and if Rondo can keep him in check then the Celtics will be sitting pretty.
The Jazz have to play good perimeter D on the Pierce and Allen, who can both drain the long-ball.
Without Boozer in the lineup the Jazz are soft inside and KG will take advantage of that. C.J. Miles and Paul Milsap will have to give the Jazz some inside toughness that they lack when Boozer is out.
If the Jazz can win this game it will give them a ton of confidence, which they will need in the second half of the season.
Jason’s Pick: I like the Jazz to come up huge tonight and find a way to win!