In order to prove themselves as a legitimate title contender, the Celtics need to wrap up a strong road trip out West when they take on the Jazz in Utah.
With wins over Houston and Dallas in their last three days, the C's can now say that they've put themselves on the map, and the rest of the league has taken notice. However, in order to finish off the perfect road swing, they have to get through a difficult Utah team that's won three of its last four and is jousting for playoff position in the Western Conference.
When & Where
Monday, March 22, 9 p.m. ET (CSNE)
EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
Celtics (45-24, first place in Atlantic Division)
Jazz (45-25, second place in Northwest Division)
Head to Head
This is the Celtics' second and final matchup with Utah this season. The first was a total blowout, with the C's taking the lead early and ultimately doing away with the Jazz, 105-86, at the TD Garden on Nov. 11. Seven Celtics scored in double figures in that game, the C's as a team shot 53.2 percent, and Rajon Rondo posted a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists. If the Celtics can replicate that performance on the road Monday night, they'll be tremendously happy.
This Jazz team has come a long way this season. When they came to Boston in November, we saw a Utah squad that was battling chemistry problems and was fraught with inconsistent play. Jerry Sloan has turned things around in Salt Lake City as the Jazz were 3-5 back then, but have gone 42-20 since and are now poised to earn a high seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Deron Williams just keeps getting better, Carlos Boozer is having a stellar contract year, and this club has started to jell. It's a thrill to watch.
Point Guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting Guard: Ray Allen
Small Forward: Paul Pierce
Power Forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Kendrick Perkins
Point guard: Deron Williams
Shooting guard: Wes Matthews
Small forward: Andrei Kirilenko
Power forward: Carlos Boozer
Center: Mehmet Okur
The Celtics are now 24-12 on the road. With a win, they can tie Cleveland (25-11) for the most road wins in the NBA.
They have 604 steals, second in the league only to the Warriors.
Kendrick Perkins is shooting 60.8 percent from the field, tied with Orlando's Dwight Howard for the NBA lead.
Paul Pierce shot 10-for-17 from the field and 8-for-10 from the free throw line in the Celtics' win over Dallas on Saturday, finishing with 29 points. He has scored 84 points in his last four games.
Rajon Rondo had 10 rebounds against the Mavs. It was his third time in double figures this season.
Kevin Garnett has 1.1 steals per game. He has averaged more than one per contest in every season of his 15-year career.
Ray Allen has averaged 24.6 points per game against the Jazz in his career.
The Jazz are 0-1 against the Celtics this season but 6-0 against the rest of the Atlantic Division.
They lead the NBA in assists with 1,857.
Kyle Korver is the NBA's best three-point shooter at 55.8 percent.
Carlos Boozer is fifth in the NBA in rebounds per game with 11.2.
Deron Williams is third in the league in assists with 10.3 per game.
Paul Millsap leads the Jazz in blocked shots with 79; Mehmet Okur is second with 73.
Kyrylo Fesenko pulled down eight rebounds against the Hornets on Saturday, a season high.
Black and Blue
The Celtics remain fully healthy, as they have been all March.
Andrei Kirilenko missed Utah's game Saturday against New Orleans with a strained left calf. His return Monday is questionable.
Mehmet Okur is also questionable after missing Saturday with a stomach virus.
This Date in Celtics History
In 1960, the Philadelphia Warriors defeated the Celtics 128-107 in Game 5 of the East finals at the Boston Garden. The shootout game featured a combined 169 rebounds between the two teams, an NBA playoff record that still stands to this day.
"We're trying to gather momentum for the playoffs. I'm healthy, Kevin's healthy, and we're ready to roll."
–Paul Pierce after the Celtics' win in Dallas on Saturday night
The Press Box
The Celtics keep winning on the road.
Glen Davis brings the Celtics some energy.
Catching up with Marcus Landry.
Losing to the Celtics in November was a turning point for Utah.
The Jazz battle the injury bug.
Will Carlos Boozer stick around? It's a possibility.
The Hawks are playoff bound.
LeBron James is eager to welcome Zydrunas Ilgauskas back to Cleveland.
The Lakers will surely struggle without Andrew Bynum.
The Celtics have already earned two statement wins with their successful swing through Texas over the weekend. The Jazz are banged up a little bit, but they'll be ready to play when the streaking Celtics come to town. Deron Williams will be his explosive self, Carlos Boozer will score in bunches, and Utah will be tough to beat. KG and Kendrick Perkins will have to do all they can to anchor this team defensively.