The Celtics are unable to win games this season against leading teams. It is facing a powerful squad and going blank. It has happened to them with the Jazz, Suns, Nets, Sixers, and Lakers. It is a constant sum that deteriorates the path of Brad Stevens’ team.
Today, more of the same. Defeat in the Garden against Utah by 109-117. Nobody can say anymore that these Jazz are a flower of a day. Quite the contrary, Quin Snyder’s men, continue at a devastating pace that has already brought them to a 29-10 mark.
Coral game, another excellent exercise from the triple (19 scored), defense and security when facing the game’s final stretch. A combination of elements that does not fail. But within that ‘cohort’ there are always players who emerge with more force at the moment of truth.
Without going any further, Donovan Mitchell did not score his first points until there were 3 minutes left to finish the first half. But in that small span of 3 minutes, he scored 9 and at the end of the game contributed 21 points and 5 assists after scoring 8 goals in the last quarter showing his most crucial face in the moments of truth.
Rudy Gobert, to give another clear example, suffered in the first half every time Daniel Theis took him out of the area in the Boston attack and went into halftime with very poor numbers, but at the beginning of the last quarter, he resurfaced from his ashes, capitalized on the best moment of his own and ended the game scoring decisive free games to add 16 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks and 6 of 7 in free practice, including a 4 of 4 from the penalty line in the last minute.
But beyond Mitchell and Gobert, Utah was again a team. They had the visitors to 6 players in double digits, including the offensive heat of Jordan Clarkson in the first half (he finished the game with 20 points and 5 triples), the 17 points and 5 assists of the sober and solvent Mike Conley or the transcendental exercise, once again in the Joe Ingles team game, essential glue in this project.
The second unit’s contribution is very important, and the final mettle of the team is wonderful with Mitchell, Gobert, and Bojan Bogdanovic showing the firm pulse of the great teams.
Boston once again relied heavily on its two great lighthouses. Jayson Tatum had 29 points, and Jaylen Brown had 28 and 7 assists. Absent Tristan Thompson excellent work by Daniel Theis (15 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists), who shone tremendously in the first half, and Robert Williams III (14 points and 9 rebounds in 22 minutes), who is crying out for more time on the court.
Kemba Walker played a game from over to under again, Marcus Smart contributed rather little, and rookie Payton Pritchard punctured this time.
Good work on the rebound for the local team, who barely had 4 free throws in favor throughout the game, a figure that seems too low to adjust to the reality lived on the court.
The game started with little distance, with a lilting rhythm prone to monotony. In a deaf way, the Jazz recovered with their second unit the space lost in the crash’s first moments. A first quarter that ended 22-20, a first quarter with many turnovers and a 0 of 7 from Boston’s triple, a first quarter without a single free throw.
The second act was something else. Much more dynamic. The rhythm grew, and the show appreciated it. This began to hurt Gobert, Clarkson came to a boil, Ingles began to assemble his particular puzzle, and Mitchell started to play when the halfway point of the game had almost been reached, reaching the break with 53-54 on the scoreboard, without Boston having been able to run the court, nor would he have had a single free throw in his favor.
Bogdanovic, who hadn’t scored in the first half, perked up a bit in the second, and his team thanked him. Utah got to 7 up in the third quarter, but ended up giving up: 79-77 at the end of the first 36 minutes of play. Tatum and Williams III worked very well in this third quarter, the offensive rebound damaged the visiting board, and the Utah substitutes already had 39 points.
The last quarter started with a 2-13 partial for Jazz with 7 points from the resurrected Gobert, a start that took the light to a dangerous 81-90 for Boston, but the home team knew how to react to drag the game to a balanced end.
Two triples by Mitchell and Conley made it 97-104 for Utah, Boston cut to 101-104, but another triple by Mitchell, Marcus Smart’s bad finish, and the visitors’ free practice’s success decided the game despite the 3s scored desperately by Kemba and Brown.