When we last saw the Celtics at TD Garden, they were walking off the court – heads down – after a bad loss to the 76ers.
It’s amazing what a weekend getaway can do.
The C’s return home for a game against the Utah Jazz Wednesday having won their last two games on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls.
For the first time this season, the C’s can hang their hats on the fact that they played a game close to the standards that people will hold them to all season. By scoring 101 points against a Bulls team that prides itself on defense, Boston showed that slowly but surely the team is starting to jell on offense. And on defense, we saw them stifle the Bucks and Bulls as they tried to make fourth-quarter comebacks.
Perhaps it’s the new starting lineup, one that included Jason Terry and Brandon Bass over Courtney Lee and Jared Sullinger. Or maybe it’s the slight improvement Jeff Green showed and the rhythm Paul Pierce has rediscovered.
More likely though, it’s that Rajon Rondo is playing just about as good as anyone in the NBA. The Bulls had no answer for Rondo, who finished the game with 20 points, nine rebounds, and 10 assists. And get this: Rondo has recorded at least 10 assists in 31 straight games, the third longest streak ever and longest since John Stockton had 37 straight back in 1989.
He’ll try to make it 32 straight tonight against former Celtics big man Al Jefferson and the Jazz. The Jazz beat the Raptors in triple OT Monday, 140-133, and are hoping to make it three wins a row this evening.
So what can we expect? Well, along with Jefferson, Paul Millsap makes up the starting front court for Utah. Millsap is one of the more underrated players in the NBA, and can not only be a force down low, but can stretch the floor all the way out to the 3-point line. Look for those two to be big factors in the game.
Also 6-foot-8 shooting guard Gordon Hayward could pose some matchup problems for Boston. You may see more of Green tonight for the Celtics than you’d expect.