Boston, MA— The Utah Jazz (8-8) led by Donovan Mitchell won the season series against the Boston Celtics (9-7) as they come into the TD Garden and convincingly defeat Boston, 98-86.
“We played well. We did our thing. Way to respond, against a tough team on a back-to-back,” said Mitchell after the game.
Both teams were coming into this game on the second of a back-to-back, however, Utah was able to do a little bit more to secure this win. Let’s go through some of the things that made them so successful in this contest.
The Jazz did a great job when it came to points in the paint in this game. Now many will look at the box score and say that the Celtics outscored Utah 46-42 in that category, so how were they better? Well, it was the way that the Jazz were able to get those points.
Utah came into this game shooting 32.6 percent from downtown. That’s fourth worst in the entire league. They also were coming off a game where they shot a season-low 18 percent from beyond-the-arc against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday. The approach they took in the game was to be aggressive, drive the ball in down low and if the Celtics collapsed inside they would dump the ball off to guys like Rudy Gobert, who finished with 12 points and nine boards and Derrick Favors, who finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and was a recipient of a couple of alley-oop plays.
Boston was trying to drive inside and looking to kick it out for threes but they didn’t have a good shooting performance from downtown (15.2 percent) or the field (38.5 percent).
Secondly, Donovan Mitchell, who led the team in scoring with 28 points, three rebounds, six assists, three steals, and a block, made the right plays in this game. Many people were criticizing him due to the fact that he scored 31 points in their last game against the Sixers but he took 35 shots to get there and had zero assist. The last player to do that was Carmelo Anthony and he had 62 points.
Mitchell got six more assists than he did Friday night but he also got help from his teammates in this game as well. Four other players for the Jazz scored in double figures including Ricky Rubio, who had 20 points and four rebounds as well as Dante Exum, who had 10 points off the bench. They were making plays for themselves and others in the game. This helped Mitchell to be able to focus more on creating his own shot and then make the right reads in the ballgame as opposed to thinking about whether to score on this possession or pass. He didn’t have to force it.
Now the question is going to be will Mitchell need another player to help him make plays out on the floor?
Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood believe that he does need an extra guy and they could be right. You’re not going to get this kind of production out on the floor from your “others” every game and a lot of these guys on this Utah team aren’t playmakers or can create their own shot like Mitchell can. You may have to think of picking up someone that can take the load off of Mitchell’s back in games where he’s not feeling it if you’re the Jazz.
Lastly, the pace of the game favored the Jazz more than the Celtics. Boston wants to play a more up-tempo style of play, while Utah plays more of an old-school, slowed down the pace. The Jazz controlled the pace of this game and took advantage of Boston’s mistakes.
The Jazz scored 15 points off of 14 Celtics turnovers as well as outscored the Celtics in terms of fast break points, 11-4. When you take those two things, things that would normally equal Boston winning games, along with Boston’s poor shooting performance, you have a good chance at winning.
Neither team shot particularly well in this contest and it’s understandable because both were playing their second game of a back-to-back. However, it seemed that the Celtics were still trying to recover from their memorable game against the Toronto Raptors and Utah took advantage as they were trying to get back to their winning ways after having lost six of their last nine games.
Boston’s four-game home winning streak comes to a close following the loss and they will head on the road to face the Charlotte Hornets on Nov. 19. The Jazz will also be on the road and will face the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 19.