The Boston Celtics and the Utah Jazz square off in an important interconference game at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The two squads have not met this year. Utah won both of the previous home matchups against Boston.
Celtics vs. Jazz injuries: 3 Questionable, 3 Out
The Celtics want to be the top team in the Eastern Conference. They are 1 1/2 games behind Milwaukee in the East and in the NBA for the best record.
Boston did its part by beating Portland 126-112 on the road late Friday night. Jayson Tatum scored 34 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the team, and Jaylen Brown added 27 points.
Tatum scored 34 points in 36 minutes (8-20 FG, 2-11 3Pt, 16-18 FT), 12 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals.
Tatum shot well in the first half, making five of his ten shots and making eight of his nine free throws. He had 19 points at halftime. In the second half, however, the small forward had trouble shooting from the field. He made only 3 of 10 shots from the field and scored 15 more points. He also grabbed 7 rebounds and gave out 2 assists.
Tatum still finished with a team-high 34 points thanks to 16-of-18 shooting from the foul line. He also led the Celtics in rebounds (12) and steals (3).
He has now gotten at least 10 rebounds in six of the eight games he has played this month, and he has made at least 16 free throws in the last two games.
Even though this is Boston’s third game on the road in four nights, the Jazz should be well rested since they last played on Monday.
Utah will play at home for the first time since coming back from a six-game trip that ended with a loss to the Miami Heat by a score of 119-115.
The Jazz have a tough schedule that makes it hard for them to make the playoffs.
The Jazz have the hardest schedule left in the NBA. On Saturday night, they play Boston at home in Salt Lake City. Utah’s remaining 13 games are against teams with a winning percentage of.556, which is the best in the league.
That difficult final stretch for the Jazz (33-36) includes a home-and-away set vs. the Celtics (49-22), two games against the Sacramento Kings (42-27), and matchups with the Milwaukee Bucks (50-20), Phoenix Suns (38-32), Denver Nuggets (47-23) and Brooklyn Nets (39-31).
Utah and the Los Angeles Lakers are tied for 10th place in the Western Conference going into Saturday’s game. This is the last of the four play-in spots. The Jazz need to win two more games to be sure of making the playoffs.
Jordan Clarkson might not be able to play this game because of a finger injury, says Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune.
Clarkson has missed four straight games because of a sprained finger, but he took part in all of Friday’s practice, which is a good sign that he might play on Saturday.
If he comes back, it’s likely that Ochai Agbaji, Johnny Juzang, and Kris Dunn will get less playing time.
The Salt Lake Tribune’s Andy Larsen reports that Collin Sexton’s (hamstring) absence will last at least another week.
After Sexton injured his left hamstring in the Jazz’s penultimate game before the All-Star break, the team has been providing weekly updates on his recovery. Kris Dunn and Ochai Agbaji should keep getting more playing time while the guard is out.