Well, this game got good in a hurry. The Celtics were in Salt Lake City to take on the Jazz, and on the surface, it looked like Utah would probably handle their business. That’s because Boston is for the moment without Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Marcus Smart, and Marcus Morris. The Jazz were healthy, and they’re currently battling for the 8th spot in the West.
But Boston came to play, outscoring the Jazz 30-15 in the second quarter. Utah was better after the half, and held a 94-88 lead with 2:25 remaining. The Celtics went on a run, though, including this flush to tie it up:
The ensuing possession for Utah demonstrated why Salt Lake is such a fun basketball town, as the crowd rose to their feet and raised the decibel level on a Wednesday night in March. Maybe they should have done that while the Jazz were on defense instead, though:
After that, the Celtics took at timeout to allow Brad Stevens to work his late-game magic. He did that by going small, while the Jazz had Rudy Gobert on the floor; that decision directly led to how scrambled Utah’s defense was here, with Gobert forced to chase a smaller player around in space, which led to more confusion, which led to this:
That’s Jaylen Brown hitting the effective game-winner.
Utah technically had a chance to tie, but it wasn’t much of a chance:
That’s a hell of a finish, and a pretty crushing one for the Jazz. For Boston, though, it keeps them within striking distance of the Raptors for the first overall seed in the East, despite playing with a depleted crew. If anything, it’s helpful in that it helps to prevent Toronto from giving their players rest down the stretch; the Kyrie surgery clearly means they’re not gunning for it themselves, but wins like this keep it possible.