National Basketball Association
Celtics-Jazz Preview
National Basketball Association

Celtics-Jazz Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 5:30 p.m. ET

Utah is in the process of giving back what it accomplished on a seven-game win streak, which Boston hopes to take advantage of to add to its own pre-All-Star success.

The Celtics resume play Friday night and begin a three-game trip against the Jazz, who find themselves right back under .500 - albeit with some backcourt help after a trade-deadline acquisition.

Boston (32-23) had won 10 of 12 entering the break, including a 139-134 home overtime victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 10. Isaiah Thomas had 36 points and 11 assists to boost the guard's scoring average to 23.1 over the last 19 games.

Jared Sullinger had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and the big man is averaging 14.0 points on 56.9 percent shooting in the last five after scoring 9.5 on 41.5 percent through 49 contests. His production comes at a good time with Kelly Olynyk expected to miss two weeks because of a shoulder injury.


"Guys in the locker room, we are sticking together, we're fighting. We stick up for one another," said Jae Crowder, who's averaged 18.5 points in the last two games. "Everyone gets along and it's a great energy in the locker room."

The recent play combined with unattractive offers made general manager Danny Ainge sit tight through Thursday's deadline.

"You hear it all the time about all the pieces working together and maximizing all the pieces to maximize the talent that you have by playing together," Ainge told the team's official website. "And you hear also where there's stars that don't get along and they don't really max out the talent that's on the team. I think our team is maxing out their talent. I think they enjoy playing with one another, and I think they'll be excited to continue on what they've done in the first 55 games."

The Jazz elected to deal, acquiring Shelvin Mack from Atlanta in a three-team trade that included Chicago. The Bulls received a second-round pick from the Jazz and guard Justin Holiday from the Hawks. Atlanta receives guard Kirk Hinrich from the Bulls.

The move adds depth at point guard as the Jazz deal with the absence of Dante Exum, and it reunites Mack with former Butler teammate Gordon Hayward, who had 19 points in Thursday's 103-89 loss in Washington.

It was a makeup for a Jan. 23 postponement, and the Jazz follow Friday's home game with Sunday's contest in Portland. They start the second half without more than one day off until March 6-7.

"That's what happens when you have a snow day," Hayward said. "It's unfortunate for us but we're professionals and we'll get back tomorrow with another tough test tomorrow and hopefully we play better."

Utah (26-27) also dropped its last game before the break - a 100-96 final in New Orleans on Feb. 10 - and Quin Snyder's team has now dropped 13 of its last 14 in which it's given up at least 100 points.

The Jazz also committed a season-high 23 turnovers a game after totaling 17, so some veteran ballhandling to help rookie Raul Neto and Trey Burke might be arriving at the right time.

"He's an intelligent player," said Snyder, who was Mack's assistant coach in Atlanta. "For him to be effective and help us, he's got to find a role within our group, and I think he's capable of doing that."

That'll include working with Rodney Hood, who continued to boost his scoring average with 18 points against the Wizards. The second-year guard is now averaging 15.0 points per game for the season with 20.9 over the last 12 contests.

Boston won both meetings last season as part of an 8-1 stretch in the series.


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