Boston (34-19) at Utah (34-20)
When: Saturday, February 11th 2017
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
Time: 10:05 ET | TV: NBA TV
The Boston Celtics continue their road trip in Salt Lake City on Saturday night and take on the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Boston was helped by another huge fourth quarter from 5’9″ All-Star Isaiah Thomas on Thursday in beating the Portland Trail Blazers 120-111. Thomas scored 15 of his 34 points in the final quarter as the Celtics battled back from 17-point first half deficit to win for the eighth time in ten games. Thomas will be looking to reach 20 points or more for the 38th straight game against a tough Utah defense. Thomas is second in the NBA in scoring (29.9 points) behind Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (30.9) but leads the league in fourth-quarter average (10.7). Thomas is averaging 34.1 points in the last nine games to help Boston climb into second place in the Eastern Conference. The diminutive guard scored 29 points and dished out a career-high 15 assists with only one turnover in a January 3rd matchup with the Jazz. Thomas is averaging 6.3 assists and 2.6 turnovers on the season. Boston took four of the last five in the series, with the lone loss coming at Utah 111-93 last season.
The Jazz are returning from a three-game road trip that saw them take care of Atlanta and New Orleans by an average of 29 points, but they let up in the finale at Dallas, falling to the Mavericks 112-105 in overtime. Utah leads the NBA in scoring defense (95.7 points) and should be plenty motivated after allowing 112 to a lowly Dallas team on Thursday. Gordon Hayward, who played for Celtics coach Brad Stevens in college and drew cheers from the Boston crowd when Utah visited earlier in the season, is scorching hot right now, scoring 30 or more points in three of the last four games. Center Rudy Gobert recorded 15 points and 15 rebounds on Thursday but fouled out in 36 minutes and committed five of the team’s 21 turnovers. Small forward Joe Ingles has been showing off his range of late, hitting 7-of-12 3-pointers over the last three games. Utah continues to lead the Northwest Division by three games over Oklahoma City and will host the Clippers and Blazers before heading back East for three games.
Boston is on a roll right now and you can never count them out with Thomas leading the way. The Jazz have a stingy defense, but Boston isn’t bad either especially at guarding the 3-point line. I have to take the points in this one.
Pick: Celtics +5.5