Final, Celtics : The Celtics didn’t so much win their first game as much as they survived it.
After enduring a 16-3 deficit to start the game and nearly handing away a 25-point advantage in the fourth quarter, the Celtics pulled out a victory on their home floor. Brandon Bass delivered several big shots down the stretch, including a wide-open fastbreak dunk to clinch the win.
Gordon Hayward had 28 points and nine rebounds in an impressive display, while Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors controlled the paint most of the time by combining for 32 points and 22 rebounds. But Bass, Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace provided enough of an all-around spark to escape with the win despite the Celtics getting outscored 25-13 in the fourth quarter.
Fourth quarter, :59.7, Celtics 95-87: If the Celtics pull this one out, it might be because the Jazz simply ran out of time.
Jordan Crawford knocked the ball out of bounds on the previous possession, but the referees said it went off Enes Kanter’s leg. It appears they are wrong, though, and possession is likely to change after a review.
So the Celtics aren’t out of the woods yet.
Fourth quarter, 2:21, Celtics 93-85: The Celtics are working way harder for this win than they should have to. Gordon Hayward has the ball in his hands every Utah possession to score or make a play. He did the latter on the Jazz’s last play by driving, drawing a defender and then hitting a cutting Enes Kanter for a dunk.
Fourth quarter, 3:49, Celtics 91-83: It’s a dogfight for the right to leave TD Garden with a 1-4 record.
The Jazz have surged back from a 25-point deficit and have twice pulled within eight points. Brandon Bass was able to stem the bleeding with one of his patented 15-footers, but things are definitely getting interesting.
The Celtics have been outscored 21-7 in this frame by a Utah lineup that includes Mike Harris and Ian Clark. If Jazz coach Ty Corbin is trying to tank, his players are doing an awful job of backing him up.
Fourth quarter, 8:17, Celtics 87-74: Silly us, thinking this lead might be safe. It’s down to 13 points less than four minutes into the fourth quarter, forcing Brad Stevens to call a timeout to remind his players, “Uh, hey, guys? There are four quarters in a basketball game. That’s why they’re called ‘quarters.’ I come from the NCAA and even I know that.”
Disclaimed: Stevens probably didn’t say any of that. But he should have.
End of third quarter, Celtics 84-62: Phil Pressey got in the scoring column. That was neat.
The Celtics are at that stage of the game now, simply looking to pad stats and get undrafted rookies into the stat book. Pretty soon little-used players like Keith Bogans and MarShon Brooks might even make appearances.
Quick poll: Who appears first, Bogans, Brooks or Gino? (Assuming the Celtics can hold onto this 22-point lead, which … wait … 22 points? Gulp.)
Third quarter, 5:42, Celtics 70-45: Now, if the Celtics blow this lead, it will be truly impressive.
Midway through the third quarter, the Celtics are firing on all cylinders. Brandon Bass is giving Derrick Favors, the young defensive ace, a little veteran’s tutoring, and the Jazz have no answer for Jeff Green.
Avery Bradley has focused his defensive energy on Gordon Hayward, helping to hold the Jazz’s leading scorer to just four points since halftime.
Halftime, Celtics 50-34: The Celtics are playing in reverse tonight, by the looks of it.
Instead of playing an awful fourth quarter, the Celtics were awful out of the gate. Is that progress? Who knows, but they lead by 16 points at the break after Jared Sullinger drains a buzzer-beating baseline jump shot.
As a reminder, this game started with Utah ahead 16-3. It’s 47-18 since.
Jeff Green leads all scorers with 13 points, although Gerald Wallace was equally huge off the bench helping the Celtics get back into the game. Gordon Hayward has 12 points to lead the Jazz.
Rebounding was a point of emphasis for the Celtics against the Jazz, who are an elite squad on the glass. The Celtics actually hold a 23-21 advantage in rebounds and have managed to hold Utah to just four offensive boards. The Celtics have also taken 11 threes, making five, which helped them come back when the Jazz held a dominant lead in points in the paint early on. Since then, the Celtics have evened that out, too; it’s now 18-18 on points in the paint.
Second quarter, 5:57, Celtics 34-30: Kris Humphries has been the forgotten man the last two games, but he is back and doing some overall positive things for the Celtics. He wasted no time getting into the scorebook, and at 6-foot-9, 235 pounds, he might be the Celtics’ best resistance to Enes Kanter with Vitor Faverani not playing very well.
Second quarter, 9:51, Celtics 29-26: Gerald Wallace might not always say the right things, but nobody can accuse him of being selfish about his plight on this team.
Wallace has been more of a distributor than a scorer so far with the Celtics, and even though he is currently tied with Jeff Green for Boston’s scoring high, he is still looking to get his teammates involved. Wallace was about to unleash a wing 3-pointer when he spied Kelly Olynyk wide open under the hoop.
Without breaking his shooting motion, Wallace fired a pass into Olynyk for the layup — and the Celtics’ biggest lead of the game.
End of first quarter, Jazz 26-23: Maybe Gerald Wallace should come off the bench more often. The unwilling bench player came in to score eight points, including two 3-pointers, to help bring the Celtics back after a putrid start.
The Celtics fell behind 16-3 in the early going but have actually rebounded and defended since, so that’s good. Enes Kanter and Gordon Hayward are stuck on eight points and 10 points, respectively, which they each reached within a few minutes of the game’s start.
First quarter, 1:49, Jazz 24-20: Just as a reminder, the Utah Jazz are not a very good basketball team.
Even after dashing out to a 13 point lead, with Enes Kanter and Gordon Hayward sprinting out to quick starts, the Jazz have almost given it all back. Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace, who was the first man off the bench, have helped spark the Celtics on a 17-8 run to close the gap.
Green leads the Celtics with eight points, with he and Wallace draining a pair of corner 3-pointers. Kelly Olynyk made his first bucket with a turnaround layup. Phil Pressey made an early entry, owing to how badly the Celtics need his ballhandling.
First quarter, 7:18, Jazz 14-3: Brad Stevens stressed in pregame that the Celtics need to keep Enes Kanter off the offensive glass. So, on the first possession of the game, the Celtics promptly gave up an offensive rebound to Kanter, who scored on the putback.
Kanter has scored eight of Utah’s first 14 points and it making the Vitor Faverani bandwagon a bit lighter. With Jamaal Tinsley, who has three assists on the Jazz’s first seven field goals, leading the show, the Jazz look like championship contenders compared to the Celtics in the opening minutes.
6:35 p.m.: Despite having an 0-4 record, the Jazz are a very good rebounding team. The Celtics are, uh, not.
The Jazz are the sixth-best team in the NBA on the glass, averaging 45.8 rebounds per game overall. If only offensive rebounds are counted, the Jazz are No. 1, pulling down 16.5 per game off the offensive glass.
Center Enes Kanter accounted for more than his fair share of those. He is currently the NBA’s leading offensive rebounder by a wide margin, averaging 6.3 per game — a rebound and a half better than the next closest player, Anthony Davis.
The Celtics are the third-worst rebounding team overall with just 38.5 boards per game.
“We’ve not been a good defensive rebounding team,” Brad Stevens said in the ultimate understatement. “We’ve been an OK offensive rebounding team. They’re an outstanding offensive rebounding team and Kanter might be, I don’t know numbers-wise, but he’s probably the best offensive rebounder in the league right now.
“The game I watched, he had six offensive rebounds in the first quarter. He was on pace for 24, which is a pretty good night’s work.”
Kanter hauled in a career-high 10 offensive rebounds in that game against Phoenix, not 24, but unless the Celtics make a concerted effort to get a body on him tonight, that 24 number might actually be in reach.
6:17 p.m. ET: After some turnover issues the last several games, the Celtics are making a change in their starting backcourt to begin Wednesday’s game.
Jordan Crawford will join Avery Bradley in the starting lineup, with coach Brad Stevens saying the two will play point guard “together” rather than naming a specific one and two guard. Gerald Wallace will come off the bench, with Jeff Green shifting to the starting small forward spot.
“They’ll both play point,” Stevens said. “They’ll both handle the ball. I think we’re able to run a bigger variety of things with both guys in rather than one guy in over the other. Our offensive numbers have been pretty good with Jordan in the game. It also gives you a few tweaks, potentially, off the bench.”
Crawford has been shockingly efficient through four games with the Celtics. In a minuscule sample size, he is posting a 27.1 player efficiency rating and the Celtics have a 102.3 offensive rating with him on the court. (Their offensive rating when he is off the court is 86.6.)
It says a lot about these Celtics that they cannot afford to have Crawford off the court offensively right now.
The projected starters are below.
8 a.m. ET: Somebody will leave TD Garden on Wednesday night with their first win of the season. So there’s that.
The winless Utah Jazz (0-4) visit the winless Celtics (0-4) in a battle of squads that are, well, winless. The Celtics are coming off a string of fourth-quarter failures, while the Jazz are playing the second night of a back-to-back after taking a whupping at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.
Don’t expect these teams to get up and down the floor much or to light up the scoreboard. Both teams are in the bottom five in the NBA in points per game and are in the bottom third in pace. (The Celtics are dead last in that regard with just 93.53 possessions per 48 minutes.)
Join us for updates and analysis from TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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