BOSTON - It might’ve taken a little bit longer than expected to get the first win of the season, but the Boston Celtics are finally in the win column. So what if it came against a winless team in a game that they almost blew a 25-point second half lead? A win’s a win, baby!
Brandon Bass, who scored a team-high 20 points, paced the Celtics (1-4) to a 97-87 win over the Utah Jazz (0-5) at home on Wednesday night.
Jeff Green scored 18 points and showed zero hesitation in his game. That’s when he’s at his best which means that’s when the Celtics are at their best.
As a team, Boston was deliberate on offense -- especially coming off screens. Down by 13 points early in the first quarter, they didn’t have a chance to think about shooting or not.
In the second quarter, Green had the ball well beyond the three point line. Without blinking, he rose up and drilled a 36-footer to give his team a 34-28 advantage with 8:38 left. He was 3-4 from long-range on the night.
Bass, as he's done throughout this season, used his size to create space to get his shots off. His broad shoulders should allow him to separate from many of the power forwards who are going to guard him throughout this season. However, it's not the Celtics' side that will carry them this season.
This undersized team will need to run. And run. And run. On the CSNNE broadcast, Tommy Heinsohn said the Celtics have to “utilize speed at all positions to test the stamina of the other team.” The tempo will take it’s toll in the fourth quarter.
However, it was the Jazz that was able to impose their will in the final 12 minutes. Gordon Hayward (game-high 28 points, nine rebounds, five assists), lead the Jazz on a 19-5 run in the fourth quarter to make it a . He’s certainly playing like a max-contract guy...or close to it.
Tonight, speed took it’s toll on the Jazz much earlier than that as Boston’s lead ballooned to as many as 25 points with 5:41 left in the third quarter.
Hayward, Brad Stevens’ best player while coaching at Butler, lead Utah as they stormed back in the second half with a 19-5 run in the fourth quarter to make it 89-83. Enes Kanter was also a bright spot, bringing energy to Utah, hustling to boards on the way to 22 points.
But at the end of the night, it just wasn’t enough. It was the first time Utah has fallen to 0-5 since the 1974-1975 season.
Kelly Olynyk (14 points, eight rebounds) continued to show his NBA-ready offense with his soft touch around the rim as both a shooter and passer. He threw a quick pass to Jared Sullinger (12 points) in the paint for an easy bucket immediately after Jordan Crawford whipped him the ball just a moment before. That gave Boston a 76-53 lead in the third quarter.
Another positive for the Celtics was the fact that they only committed 14 turnovers on the night. They entered the game turning the ball over at least 17 times a game.
I’m sure this game will give Brad Stevens many gray hairs, but at the end of the day, it’s a win they Celtics can build off of.
Boston travels to face Orlando Magic in their next game on Friday night at 7:00pm ET.