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News » Jazz-Celtics Preview 2009-11-10

Jazz-Celtics Preview 2009-11-10

Jazz-Celtics Preview 2009-11-10The Boston Celtics gutted out a win over the weekend despite playing for the fourth time in five nights. Now, the Celtics are rested - and that could spell trouble for the Utah Jazz.

Returning to the court for the first time in four days, the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics look to continue their impressive start Wednesday when they host a Utah club seeking consecutive wins for the first time this season.

The Celtics (7-1) saw their unbeaten run come to an end Friday with a 110-103 home loss to Western Conference-leading Phoenix. That was the third game in four nights for Boston, which proceeded to travel to New Jersey for another game Saturday night.

The weary Celtics didn't look particularly sharp - shooting 44.9 percent from the floor and scoring a season low - but forced 23 turnovers and outscored the short-handed Nets 27-15 in the fourth quarter to escape with an 86-76 victory.

"I didn't think we had a lot in the tank," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "I could see that, that's why I sat our starters long stretches (Saturday). I was just trying to milk the game as long as I could get it and then play at the end, and we had enough to win."

With the fourth-oldest roster in the league - the "Big Three" of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and sixth man Rasheed Wallace are all 32 or older - the Celtics may tire more easily than many teams. When fully rested, though, there may be no team better. In 2008-09, Boston was 16-2 following two or more days off, matching the champion Lakers for the best such record in the league.

Pierce and Rajon Rondo scored 16 points apiece to lead the Celtics on Saturday. Rondo had 25 with nine rebounds and eight assists when Boston hosted the Jazz last season, helping the Celtics to a 100-91 win Dec. 15. The Jazz returned the favor Feb. 19 with a 90-85 victory in Salt Lake City to salvage a split of the series.

Utah has experienced a surprising amount of success against the Celtics in recent years, taking four of six meetings - including two of three in Boston - since the start of the 2006-07 season.

The Jazz (3-4) had not enjoyed recent success in New York, but opened their four-game Eastern road trip Monday night with a 95-93 victory over the Knicks - their first win at Madison Square Garden in more than five years.

Andrei Kirilenko and Carlos Boozer each had 23 points, while Mehmet Okur added 18 and 12 rebounds. Kirilenko's 23 were a season high as he exploited a lackluster zone defense by New York.

"I love to play against zones," Kirilenko said. "Defensively, guys, they don't really pay attention. They don't play against you particularly, they play against a spot."

Kirilenko will almost certainly find it tougher to score against the Celtics, who are allowing a league-low 84.4 points per game and have held every opponent except the Suns to 90 or fewer.

Utah has alternated wins and losses in its last four games, and is seeking its first consecutive victories since March 28 and 30.

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Added: November 10, 2009


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