The Boston Celtics are getting set to square off against the Utah Jazz, and it promises to be an exciting game between two teams on the fringes of their respective conference’s playoff picture.
With so much on the line, you can definitely foresee a scrappy, intense battle—especially under the basket—taking place between these foes.
Let’s take a look at where you can watch the action and who to keep an eye on in this nationally televised contest. We'll make a prediction on the final score and much more.
Game Information: Boston Celtics (29-27) vs. Utah Jazz (31-25)
When: Monday, Feb. 25 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
Watch: NBATV, CSNN (BOS), FxRM (UTA)
Live Stream: NBA League Pass (subscription required)
Celtics Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
F Jared Sullinger, Out, Back
G Rajon Rondo, Out, Knee
Jazz Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
G Mo Williams, Out, Thumb
Key Storyline: Home Advantage
The Celtics have struggled to win on their latest road trip, dropping three of four games out West, so it shouldn’t be a stretch to see them try to steal a victory against the Jazz on Monday.
It certainly won’t be easy, as Utah has had a prolific home-court advantage throughout the 2012-13 campaign, only losing in Salt Lake City a total of six times over the course of the season.
Boston is clearly still trying to adjust to the Jordan Crawford trade deadline deal. The former Washington Wizard had two rebounds and zero points (missing all four shot attempts) in 12 minutes of play during Sunday’s loss to the Trail Blazers.
With the absence of Rondo and Sullinger still being felt, a win in a hostile environment seems unlikely.
However, as Kevin Garnett famously said after capturing the championship in 2008, “Anything is possible!” Expect this veteran-laden squad to fight hard and push the Jazz to their limit on Monday night.
Key Matchup: Kevin Garnett vs. Al Jefferson
KG and Big Al have a long history together, starting back when the veteran was traded for the up-and-coming star in the summer of 2007.
Whenever the two have squared off since, it’s been a fierce competition—both verbally and physically, which you could see nearly came to a head when these two opponents went back and forth last spring.
That wasn’t the first time the big men had to be separated, either. Jefferson went off against the C’s in 2011, scoring 28 points, grabbing 19 boards and blocking two shots. However, Big Al and the Big Ticket drew a double-tech for their antics towards the end of the Jazz’ victory, tangling for position and talking trash away from the ball.
In 2013, things promise to be just as heated, as the Celts are going to rely on Garnett to clean the glass at an above-average rate if they want to snag a win.
Back in November, the Jazz outrebounded Boston by 15, but still came up short at the TD Garden. That sort of result isn’t typical, and there is no way that the Celtics are winning if the rebounding margin is that much against their favor in Utah.
KG realizes this, and will be going at Jefferson to get in his head and beat him in the paint.
It’s going to be an extremely close contest, but we’re giving the edge to Utah at home here.
Which team will win?
The Celtics are on a West Coast road trip and playing in the second leg of a back-to-back stretch. We feel their veteran roster will not be able to keep up with the younger, fresher Jazz legs.
Factor in that Utah has only lost twice at home in the New Year, and it’s impossible to pick the C’s to somehow edge their opponent without getting an enormous stroke of luck.
While you can’t count that out, the smart money is on the Jazz walking away with a close one on Monday evening.
Jazz 97 – Celtics 94