Celtics-Jazz preview: Finishing strong

Celtics-Jazz preview: Finishing strong
February 25, 2013, 4:15 pm
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SALT LAKE CITY— The last game of a lengthy road trip is often the toughest.

Having that game in Utah only adds to the degree of difficulty for the Celtics, who want to finish things off with a win.

The rockiest of path seems to be the road often taken by this C's team as they come into tonight's game against the Jazz having lost three of their four games out West.

"I told them, we have to finish off this road trip right," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "Try to salvage this someway, somehow."

A victory over the Jazz would certainly be something for the C's to build on, especially when you consider how good the Jazz are at home.

Utah is 21-6 (.778) at home this season compared to just 10-19 (.345) on the road which represents the second-largest difference in home and road records in the NBA this season.

Suffice it to say, the C's will be challenged on multiple levels tonight -- levels beyond this being the last game of the trip.

"Mentally you're worn down, physically you're worn down," Pierce said. "You want to get home. Those are when the good teams, the mentally tough teams, find a way to get those wins at a place that's definitely not easy to win at."

Here are some other factors that may come into play as the Celtics close out their final trip out West against the Jazz.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: With this being a back-to-back, physical fatigue may become an issue for Boston. For them, getting off to a fast start would do wonders not only for their chances of winning, but also giving them a shot at closing the game out in the final minutes of play - something they have struggled to do effectively during this road trip.

MATCHUP TO WATCH:  Kevin Garnett vs Al Jefferson. It's never a dull battle when these two get on the floor, Garnett is coming off a strong 20-point, 9-rebound night at Portland. Jefferson is having yet another strong season, averaging 17.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and has tallied 26 double-doubles this season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Avery Bradley had his hands full on Sunday in defending Damian Lillard. While Jamaal Tinsley is not to be overlooked, Bradley should have more opportunities to impact the game as a scorer tonight which is something the C's could use.

STAT TO TRACK:  Boston doesn't attack the rim a lot, which might be understandable tonight. The Jazz have one of the best shot-blocking frontlines in the NBA. They average 6.4 blocked shots per game which ranks fifth in the NBA this season. The C's average getting their shot blocked 4.7 times per game which is the 12th-highest average in the NBA.