After a heartbreaking overtime loss in Dallas, the Jazz couldn’t muster a redemptive performance against the Eastern Conferences’ second seed and Utah dropped their 21st game of the season to the Boston Celtics, 112-104.
This one wasn’t very complicated: Boston made a lot of shots. The Jazz didn’t.
Shooting an unseasonably warm 59.2% from the floor and 43.3% from 3-point distance, Boston did what they did when they hosted Utah at home: Stretched Rudy Gobert away from the basket and shot a high volume amount of threes, going 13-30 on the night.
Quin Snyder, Rudy Gobert and George Hill revealed a bit about the game plan going into tonight’s matchup and it was essentially this: Pick your poison.
Do you (Rudy) leave the paint open for Isaiah “King of the Fourth” Thomas to drive his little Mini Cooper body into, or do you sag off of a shooting big? The Jazz planned to err on the side of the latter, and that didn’t go great.
“They kind of take Rudy out of his game where he’s most effective and that’s guarding the paint,” starting point guard George Hill said of the difficulties the Celtics present.
Isaiah had four makes at the rim, and went 9-16 for 29 and 5 assists. A lot of his kick outs found those aforementioned stretchy big men. Al Horford went 2-4, and Kelly Olynyk (who has a very bad face and head hair situation happening) shot 3-5 from downtown at the Viv.
“Sometimes when you commit attention and bodies to one player, other guys get open shots,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said postgame. “[Thomas] hit some really clean looks, and then a couple when he was on the move and he hit some tough shots, too.”
When asked specifically about Rudy’s defense on K.O., Snyder said this:
“It’s not that we just left him. Those shooting 5s — it’s a different matchup.”
“You’re going to give up some open threes when they’ve got five guys on the floor who can shoot,” he added.
Rudy had a nice line of 14/14 and two blocked shots, but admitted that the matchup is somewhere he needs improvement.
“It’s a team that plays a unique way,” Gobert said. “They’ve got Isaiah Thomas… they have bigs that can space the floor and shoot and I was kind of stuck in between. So they made shots.”
The Jazz’s hoop seemed to get smaller with every shot, as the Spalding bounced, bumped and blasted off the rim, or missing it altogether. The Jazz were generating some good shots and even attempted 31 three-pointers in Saturday’s contest, but only eight went down for a meager 25.8%. For Snyder, he was happy that those looks were there, even if the end result wasn’t the one he or the team wanted.
“We took them, so to me that says that we got some threes. We weren’t real good around the rim. I think points in the paint really, really hurt us defensively. And it makes it hard on offense when we can make points on offense.”
Gordon Hayward — whom some Bostonians feel is auditioning to play for his former Butler coach again — had a pretty exceptional night, going for ANOTHER 30+ point game (31), was the only Jazzman to shoot better than 33% from 3 (4-9) and added four assists.
Snyder put it simply: “Gordon was a man.”
Hayward had some words of admiration for the guys in green after the game.
“They’re a great team, first off,” G said. “So credit to them. Seems like all five of their guys are good basketball players with a good feel for the game. They cut hard, they screen well and that little man [IT] can go.”
The Jazz are now only a half a game up over the LA Clippers, meaning Monday’s game will be a dogfight for the four seed.