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.