The Boston Celtics will once again be shorthanded when they host the visiting Utah Jazz Friday night. Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward will miss Friday’s game, Brown with a right hamstring strain, and Hayward with a right knee contusion.
Since losing to Boston on February 26, the Jazz have won three in a row, and Friday’s game will be the third of a four-game Eastern Conference swing for Utah.
Jazz Look to Stay Hot
The Utah Jazz come into play with a record of 39-22, 2.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets in the Northwest Division. They currently sit in a tie for fourth with the Houston Rockets, 8.5 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference.
Every win counts in the battle with Houston for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. As was noted earlier, Utah has won three in a row, all over teams with losing records.
The most recent of these victories came Wednesday night in a 112-104 win over the New York Knicks. Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 23 points. He lit
Boston up in the last meeting for 37 points, going shot-for-shot with Jayson Tatum.
The Jazz average 111.5 points per game, good for 16th in the league. They shoot 47.6% from the floor, which is third-best in the league, and 38.5% from three-point range. Utah allows 108.2 points per game and their defensive rating of 108.9 is 11th in the league.
Offensively, they are led by Mitchell, who averages 24.6 points per game. Bojan Bogdanovic averages 20.5 points per game, and Rudy Gobert averages 15.4 points and 14 rebounds per contest.
Celtics Look to Get Healthy
The Boston Celtics come into play with a record of 42-19, 1.5 games behind the Toronto Raptors, who clinched a playoff spot Thursday night, in the Atlantic Division. They are in third place in the Eastern Conference, 10.5 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Celtics had lost two in a row before Wednesday’s win over Cleveland, and the injury bug has not been kind to the Celtics as of late. Kemba Walker was held out Wednesday night to rest his ailing left knee.
He was not on the injury report Thursday, but as was noted earlier, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward were ruled out for Friday’s game. In the Feb. 26 contest against Utah, Jayson Tatum scored 33 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Boston victory.
Without Brown and Hayward, Boston will need similar production from Tatum this time around.
Boston averages 113.4 points per game, good for ninth in the league. They shoot 46.2% from the floor and 36.4% from behind the arc. The Celtics allow an average of 106.9 points per game, and their defensive rating of 106.2 is fourth in the league.
Offensively, the Celtics are led by Tatum, who averages 23.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Walker is averaging 21.7 points and five assists per contest.
Betting Lines and Predictions
BetOnline currently does not have a moneyline on this game, but the Celtics are favored by two points and the over/under is 218. Utah is 29-29-2 against the spread this season, and Boston is 37-21-2 against the spread.
Without Brown and Hayward, the Celtics are going to lose quite a bit of production. Tatum and Walker will have to step up, and expect them to. Take the Celtics and the under in this one.