BOSTON — The Celtics and Utah Jazz both pride themselves on winning games with their defense. The Jazz did that to Boston on Feb. 19 in a blowout win, but on Monday, it was the Celtics’ turn to return the favor.
Clinging to a one-point lead with 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the C’s got a huge block from Avery Bradley on a Gordon Hayward fadeaway attempt to help clinch a dramatic 100-95 win at TD Garden.
The Celtics trailed for the majority of the first three quarters, as the Jazz built a lead with solid defense and great play from their frontcourt.
Utah enjoyed a balanced attack, with Trey Lyles and Shelvin Mack each scoring 18 points and all five starters recording double figures.
Bradley’s defensive heroics came with a solid offensive effort, as he and Isaiah Thomas each tallied 18 points. Jae Crowder was even better, scoring a game-high 22 points on 7 of 12 shooting.
The victory stretched Boston’s home winning streak to 11 games.
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Jared Sullinger
The Celtics lost the rebound battle in the first quarter and got off to a slow start as a result.
Utah out-rebounded Boston 18 to eight through the first 12 minutes and kept possessions alive with five offensive rebounds to the Celtics’ one.
The duo of Hayward and Mack helped the Jazz make the most of those opportunities, combining for 14 of the Jazz’s 29 first-quarter points.
THE MICKEY EFFECT
Celtics coach Brad Stevens turned to Jordan Mickey in the second quarter to help stem the Jazz’s tide, and the rookie big man did just that.
Boston reeled off a 13-2 run after Mickey entered the game, as the LSU product contested Utah shots and forced the Jazz into a six-minute dry spell between buckets.
Mickey logged seven minutes in the second quarter despite averaging just 2.2 minutes per game and also made one very loud contribution on the offensive end:
TILTING THE SEESAW
The Jazz led for the entire third quarter, as the Celtics had several chances to get over the hump but couldn’t quite get it done.
Thomas helped the C’s hang around with six points in the first three minutes of the first half, but Utah’s three-headed frontcourt monster of Lyles, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert held Boston at bay.
Neither team could do much on offense, in fact, as defense dominated a foul-filled quarter that saw the Celtics trail by one entering the fourth.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
The Celtics got back to what they do best — defense and fast breaks — to pull ahead early in the fourth quarter.
Boston ripped off a 9-0 run that included two fast-break buckets, one of which came from Tyler Zeller off a nifty feed from Evan Turner.
Utah battled back, and the two teams traded blows down the stretch until Mack drilled a clutch 3-pointer with 49 seconds remaining to put the Jazz up by two. But Crowder responded immediately with 3-pointer of his own with 30 seconds left to put Boston back up one.
THE RIGHT STUFF
That’s when Bradley saved the day, blocking Hayward’s fadeaway attempt with 20 seconds remaining and sinking a trio of key free throws down the stretch to lift the Celtics to victory.
PLAY OF THE NIGHT
Thomas got into the “Leap Day” spirit with an incredible mid-air finish on Marcus Smart’s pass in the first quarter:
The Celtics’ homestand continues Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers, who are 13-2 in their last 15 games. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m ET.
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images
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