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Celtics @ Jazz | Preview & Prediction

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Celtics @ Jazz | Preview & Prediction

By Don Phillips

Boston Celtics at Utah Jazz

10:30 PM ET, Friday, February 19, 2016
Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah

The Celtics have prided themselves historically on having a good defense and this season they are boasting one of the tops in the NBA. The Celtics are currently the second-ranked defense in the NBA (by Defensive Rating) with a mark of 99.2.

They also are first in the NBA in opponent turnovers (16.9), second in steals per game (9.6), tied for 10th in defensive points per game (100.9), fourth in defensive field goal percentage (43.3%), third in defensive three-point field goal percentage (32.4%) and fourth in defensive effective field goal percentage (47.6%). Since Coach Stevens came in prior to the start of the 2013-14 season the Celtics have made improvements on the defensive end every season.

Isaiah Thomas was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the games played between Feb. 1 and Feb. 7. He averaged 20.3 points, 7.0 assists and 4.5 rebounds in leading the Celtics to a 4-0 week including a win over the Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland Cavaliers. This is Thomas’s third time winning the award as a Celtic and the first this season.

Jae Crowder is currently tied for 13th in the NBA with 1.78 steals per game and is 10th in total steals across the NBA with 96. Crowder’s career high in a season for steals per game came during last season when he averaged 0.88 steals per game and he also amassed his highest single season total with 72.

The Celtics set a new record for highest scoring first quarter in TD Garden history when they netted 46 points against the Kings on Feb. 7. It was the highest scoring first quarter since April 1997 when the Celtics scored 43 points against the Washington Bullets. It also was the Celtics’ highest first quarter scoring output since February 1982.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau it was the highest scoring opening quarter since the C’s netted 50 points against the Denver Nuggets in a 145-144 win at the Boston Garden in 1982.

The Celtics bench netted 62 points against the Magic on Jan. 29 that included four players scoring in double-figures. Evan Turner (15 pts), Marcus Smart (16 pts), Kelly Olynyk (16 pts), and Jonas Jerebko (13 pts) became the first group of Celtics players to score in double-figures off of the bench since four Celtics recorded 10 or more points off of the bench in the same game when they also won the game since March 15, 2000. According the Elias Sports Bureau the last group of Celtics to accomplish that feat were Tony Battie, Danny Fortson, Eric Williams and Doug Overton in a game against the Warriors.

The Jazz are young and inexperienced. Utah has the fewest years of service on the roster in the NBA with 32 combined years. Rookies are considered to have 0 years. (Info via Elias Sports Bureau). Utah has a combined age of 24.2 years to be the fourth youngest team in the NBA.

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Selection: Boston