The Utah Jazz are the current top team in the NBA. They take on the visiting Celtics Tuesday night. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- League-leading Utah Jazz welcome in the Boston Celtics Tuesday night
- Utah’s three point-shooting and defense has propelled them to 15-1 record in last 16
- Check the odds, analysis and betting preview below
There’s music, and then there’s the noise the Utah Jazz are making.
The Jazz have shot to the top of the NBA charts, going a blistering 15-1 in their last 16 games, as they welcome in the hobbled Boston Celtics Tuesday night.
Boston will again be shorthanded, but Brad Stevens’ crew has shown some real grit on this five-game trip. We’ll see what they can conjure up against Utah as 4-point road underdogs.
Celtics vs Jazz Odds
|Boston Celtics||+4 (-110)||+146||N/A|
|Utah Jazz||-4 (-110)||-174||N/A|
Odds from FanDuel taken February 8. Tip-off is Tuesday at 10pm ET
At 19-5, Utah is fending off both the Lakers and Clippers for top spot in the West, while the 12-10 Celtics are holding steady as the 4-seed in the East.
Jazz Do It On Both Ends
Utah has been known for its ability to defend, anchored by yearly DPOY candidate Rudy Gobert, and they haven’t skipped a beat in that category this season. The Jazz rank third in defensive rating, lead the league in defensive rebounding and hold teams to the third-lowest point-per-game total at 105.7 a night.
People like to pigeonhole him as a team defender, but Rudy Gobert can be a lockdown big too.
He shut down Domantas Sabonis on Sunday, holding him to 3-for-11 shooting and stifling his array of post moves. pic.twitter.com/HZwX65bTU5
— Alec Sturm (@Alec_Sturm) February 8, 2021
They also rank sixth in blocks and are top-8 in limiting second chance points. In a nutshell, it’s hard to score against the Jazz, and it’s mostly one-and-done possessions.
The biggest improvement, however, is Utah’s offense, in particular their long distance shooting. They lead the league in three-point makes per game, drilling 17 moneyballs a night. The Jazz shoot it at the second best clip in the league, joining the Clippers as they only teams above 40%. But they’re also hoisting at a hefty volume, trailing only Portland in attempts per game at over 42 a contest.
At the half, the @utahjazz lead the @ATLHawks 45-37.
Ugly game overall as two teams are a combined 33-95 from the floor (34%).
However, the Jazz got 25 points from Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic take the lead into the break. #takeNote pic.twitter.com/K4SSUlxOH8
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) February 5, 2021
They’re paced by Donovan Mitchell, putting up 23.5 points a game, one of six Utah players scoring in double digits this season. Jordan Clarkson has become a supercharged scorer, and is in the running for NBA Sixth Man of the Year, scoring 17.5 points per game, while Gobert is putting up better than 13 points and 13 points a night.
Utah may be shorthanded for this one, as point guard Mike Conley is day-to-day with a hamstring injury.
End Of The Road For Celtics
Save for a home date against the Lakers, Boston has been on the road for seven of eight games, and the Jazz game will be their fifth straight before returning home. Despite being without Marcus Smart for the last four games with a calf injury, and without Jaylen Brown for the last two with a knee injury, Boston has stayed afloat, alternating wins and losses.
Jayson Tatum with a game-high 34 in the Celtics 16-point comeback win vs the Clippers!
34 PTS, 7 REB, 5 3PT, 4 STLpic.twitter.com/LWOPjF7UIn
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 6, 2021
They beat Golden State, before losing a close one to the Sacramento Kings. Boston dusted themselves off and picked up a signature win against the LA Clippers, but ran out of steam the next game in Phoenix against the Suns.
The one constant though, has been the play of Jayson Tatum. He’s been the leading scorer for the Celtics in the last six games, and he’s pacing Boston in scoring at 27 a night (ninth in the NBA), while adding 7.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists and shooting it at 41.9% from beyond the arc.
Kemba Walker makes the big shot for the Celtics against the Clippers in LA. pic.twitter.com/WUY0q6lJuV
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) February 6, 2021
The good news is Brown could be in the lineup Tuesday, but for the Celtics to make real noise, Kemba Walker is going to need to get back to all-star caliber. Hobbled by a bad knee that sidelined him to start the year, Walker has played just nine games, averaging 15.9 points, but shooting a dreadful 35.7% from the field and 30.9% from behind the arc.
What’s The Best Bet?
One way the Celtics can pick up extra possessions is if they are able to penetrate that top-rated defensive rebounding team. Boston is eighth in offensive rebounds a game, so Utah’s frontline will definitely get a test from Tristan Thompson and co. But it likely won’t matter if Boston can’t contain Utah’s long-ball game. They are eighth worst in 3-point shooting defense, letting teams hit at a 36% rate.
While Boston will be game, I think they fade down the stretch and the Jazz keep making that noise.
The pick: Jazz -4 (-110)
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.