Coming off a disappointing loss to Portland, the Celtics take on a young Jazz team, that has won three of its last four.
The first key to ensuring that Boston does not end the road trip with just one win is dictating the style of play. Make tonight a defensive contest. Force Utah to play half court offense, while being able to generate transition offense off of stops.
The second key is one that has plagued this team throughout the road trip; finish quarters strong. Getting off to a good start is important, but it is negated when you allow opponents to come back on you in the final stretch of the period. If the Celtics grow lethargic, Doc Rivers needs to recognize this and make the necessary adjustments. The acquisition of Jordan Crawford should help in this area. His ability to generate scoring will serve as a big plus for the team going forward.
The problem is that this is just his third game with the team and it will take time to gel with his new teammates.
Still, putting the ball in his hands and giving him the green light when these dry spells occur should yield positive results and help Boston do a better job of closing out quarters.
The third key is not relying too heavily on Paul Pierce on offense. This has been a theme throughout the road trip and it allows for teams to key in on Pierce and make life more difficult for him. Since the injury to Rajon Rondo, the team has experienced success when utilizing good ball movement.
Running the offense through Pierce does not mean he has to be the one scoring every possession. Keep the basketball moving, and remain active without it. Spread the floor, cut to the basket, utilize the pick and roll. These tools have been key to the success Boston’s offense has been experiencing since Rondo went down.
Letting everyone touch the ball, also has a positive impact on all facets of the game.