Sizzling Celtics

In their forgettable 2006-07 season, the Boston Celtics couldn't manage to win 25 games - or win one against the Utah Jazz.

They can accomplish both feats Saturday night.

The sizzling Celtics look for their third straight win on a four-game Western road trip and their fifth victory in a row overall as they face the Jazz for the first time this season.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Boston -3.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 192.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 90% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -3.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

After offseason moves brought All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to Boston to join team mainstay Paul Pierce, the Celtics (24-3) have made winning in appear almost easy. Their current four-game streak is their third of at least that length in 2007-08, and they have yet to lose two straight.

With Thursday's 104-96 win at Seattle, the Celtics matched their victory total from all of 2006-07, when they went 24-58 and missed the playoffs for the second straight season.

"That means we were really bad,'' coach Doc Rivers said. "That doesn't mean we're good this year. We've done nothing in our minds. We've proven we can play 27 games. That's it.''

Even if Rivers won't concede the Celtics are good, they have four fewer losses than any other team in the league. Garnett has 15 double-doubles and is the NBA's current leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game. Allen is averaging 19.0 points and shooting 92 percent from the free-throw line in his first season in Boston.

Pierce, who has spent all 10 of his NBA seasons with the Celtics, leads the team with 21.1 points per game and scored a season-high 37 against the SuperSonics.

"We've got so many players capable,'' said Pierce, who has a 24.3 scoring average in 15 career games versus the Jazz. "It could be me one night, and we recognize that. Nights that (Garnett) or Ray has it going we recognize that and try to get it to them as much as we can.''

This season's Celtics would seem to have a better chance against the Jazz than last year's club, which lost both games in season series including a 105-87 defeat at Utah on Feb. 24, when Boston committed 23 turnovers.

After playing 10 of their last 13 games away from the Delta Center, the Jazz (16-15) should be thrilled to be returning to Salt Lake City for a three-game homestand and six of their next seven overall. Utah is 10-2 at home but only 6-13 on the road, including a 1-9 mark since Dec. 4.

The Jazz beat Dallas 99-90 at home Wednesday, but fell 123-109 to the Lakers on Friday night at Los Angeles. Carlos Boozer had 20 points Friday to lead four Utah players in double figures, and added 11 rebounds for his 23rd double-double in 30 games this season.

Boozer has not played his best against Boston in the past, averaging 13.2 points in 12 games.

Utah reserve guard Gordan Giricek, banished to the locker room by coach Jerry Sloan during a 98-92 loss at Charlotte on Dec. 19, rejoined his teammates Friday after spending the previous three games away from the club. He spent the entire game on the bench.

"I guess you could call it (a suspension), but there was no fine involved," Sloan said. "We just had a little verbal exchange that got a little bit too far out of hand. It's not a big deal, really. We're going to go about our business and see what happens. He's here and I'm here, and that's the way life is.''

The Celtics conclude their trip Sunday against the Lakers. Utah returns to the court Monday to host Portland.

By: Marc Young - - Email Us

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