Celtics vs. Jazz Takeaways: Cs lose late lead to drop to third with a 118-117 loss

Celtics drop to third in the East after losing late lead in defeat to Jazz originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics should have left Utah with their third straight win of the road trip, but the Jazz made a comeback late in the fourth quarter and handed the C’s a 118-117 loss.

The Celtics held a 19-point lead in the first half, and they also led 117-113, with 1:19 remaining in the game. But the Celtics couldn’t hold out and are now third in the Eastern Conference behind the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 25 points while Lauri Markkanen led the Jazz with 28 points.

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The Celtics’ road trip continues Tuesday night against the Kings in Sacramento. The Kings are the second-place team in the Western Conference and have won eight of their last ten games.

But before we look ahead to that game, here are three takeaways from Celtics jazz.

1) Celtics fall in standings

The Celts earned a playoff spot Saturday night following the Miami Heat’s loss to the Chicago Bulls. However, the Celtics’ loss to the Jazz, combined with the 76ers’ win over the Indiana Pacers earlier in the day, dropped Boston to third in the Eastern Conference standings.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks: 50-20

  2. Philadelphia 76ers: 48-22, 2GB

  3. Boston Celtics: 49-23, 2GB

  4. Cleveland Cavaliers: 45-28, 6.5GB

The Celtics were all alone in first place a few weeks ago but have lost six of their last 11 games. Four of those six losses were decided by four points or fewer.

Boston is now in an uphill battle for the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference playoffs. How important is seed #2? Getting it would guarantee the Celtics home field advantage at least in the first two rounds of the postseason. No. 3 on the seeding list only guarantees you a home spot in the first round.

The Celtics are hard to beat at TD Garden, where they hold the second-best home record in the league at 26-9. The C’s finished the 2021-22 regular season strong, earning second place, giving them home field advantage in the first two rounds. They eliminated the Bucks in Round 2 with a Game 7 win at the Garden. The series could have gone differently if that Game 7 had been in Milwaukee.

Luckily for the Celtics, the Sixers have that toughest remaining schedule based on the opponent’s win percentage. Philly still has games left against top-flight teams like the Bucks, Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns. But the last 10 games won’t be easy for the Celtics. They have the ninth-toughest remaining schedule, including four away games and two back-to-backs.

Health should be a top priority for the Celtics for the remainder of the regular season, but they still have to try to finish ahead of the 76ers for the No. 2.

2) Jazz dominates offensive glass

One area where Jazz really hurt the Celtics was on offense glass. Utah had a 17-5 lead in offensive rebounds, giving them 20 second-chance points. Walker Kessler had eight offensive rebounds alone.

The Celtics were missing two of their best rebounders Robert Williams III And Al Horford, but the Celtics should have been prepared for that kind of effort from Jazz on the boards. Utah entered this game #4 in the league in second chance points per game and #5 in offensive rebounds per game. The offensive glass has been a big part of the Jazz’s success this season, so the C’s should have been aware of that and done better than them.

The Jazz won the rebound fight 56-40 overall, and their starters passed the Celtics starters 45-21.

Rebounds are so important to winning games and this is an area where the Celtics need to improve going into the playoffs.

3) Grant Williams finds his groove

It’s no secret that March was a tough month for Williams. He came into Saturday averaging just 5.4 points and shot 35.3 percent from the floor in seven games. In fact, he has a combined 16 points in his last four games.

Williams got back into a rhythm against the jazz. He scored 23 points and shot 7 of 12 from 3-point range, along with four rebounds and two assists in 31 minutes.

Williams caught fire in the fourth quarter when he made three 3-pointers in a span of 154 seconds to increase Boston’s lead to 108-101. He got crammed on the edge in the last game of the game but overall it was a positive performance for him.

The Celtics will need Williams to be an effective player in the playoffs. It’s hard to imagine Boston winning four rounds en route to a championship unless Williams is a consistent 3-and-D player. His ability to stretch the ground and hit 3-pointers at a 37-40 percent rate, in addition to his excellent defense against wingers, makes him a valuable part of the Celtics’ rotation.

Saturday night’s performance was a step in the right direction for Williams as he looks to regain his confidence and touch before the first round of the playoffs begins.

Source : sports.yahoo.com

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