BOSTON – The Boston Celtics are no stranger to having bad quarters of basketball.
All NBA teams go through this throughout the season.
But for the Celtics, it’s rare that one bad quarter of play significantly hinders their chances of winning as was the case on Friday when the Celtics’ second-quarter struggles were literally the difference in their 107-95 loss to the Utah Jazz.
In the second quarter, Boston was outscored by 12 points (25-13) – the margin of Utah’s victory.
“Yeah, second quarter kind of sent us … took us out of our rhythm,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Didn’t play well the rest of the game, I didn’t think.”
And while you have to credit the Jazz (14-15) for playing one of their best games of late in order to get the win, Boston didn’t play with the kind of force or resistance we’ve seen them exude when their backs are to the wall as was the case in the fourth quarter on Friday.
Rather than rising to the occasion, they simply rolled over for a Utath team that had lost nine straight to Boston, and came into the game riding a four-game losing streak.
“We weren’t playing as hard as they were,” Steven said. “We weren’t as organized as they were … everything. And it bit us.”
Boston’s Al Horford thought the Celtics’ offense got really stagnant in the second quarter.
“From the beginning of the quarter, we came into the game talking about executing, moving the ball side to side,” Horford said. “We started the game great I felt, and then in the second we just got away from that. We started playing more one-on-one and it’s hard when you go against a team like that because they’re solid defensively. They make you earn everything you get. We got away from the plan, and I feel like it was a snowball effect from there.”
To have struggles is nothing unusual for this Celtics team.
But Friday was one of the rare games this season when Boston couldn’t overcome those early setbacks and rally for a win.
“Usually for us, we are able to weather that storm,” said Boston’s Kyrie Irving. “But tonight they just wouldn’t let us back in it. It’s a tell-tale sign of a good team, and playing poised and understanding what they want to run and execute at a very high level.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 107-95 loss to the Utah Jazz.
His overall playmaking as both a scorer and facilitator was a huge factor in the game’s outcome. He had a team-high 22 points on 10-for-15 shooting along with seven rebounds and five assists before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
This was one of the rare games this season by the Celtics in which Irving got little support offensively. He led all scorers with 33 points on 11-for-25 shooting along with six assists and four rebounds.
Having a game off did a lot of good for Horford who looked refreshed on the floor for Boston. He had 21 points on 9-for-14 shooting which included knocking down three of his five 3-point attempts. Horford also tallied six rebounds and seven assists.
Was anyone surprised that the former Celtic had one of his best games this season against his former team? Jerebko came off the Jazz bench to score a season-high 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting with seven rebounds.
The top scorer among rookies this season, Mitchell didn’t make a ton of shots but the ones he hit were impactful, for sure. Mitchell had a near double-double with 17 points on 6-for-19 shooting to go with nine assists.
Tatum’s first points didn’t come until the fourth quarter, which tells you just how rough a night this was for the 19-year-old rookie. He would finish with seven points while missing six of his seven shot attempts.
Boston needed a spark of some sort from their second unit … and it never came. They collective scored 26 points on 10-for-29 shooting and never seemed to collectively swing the game’s momentum in their favor.