Utah Jazz: Brown’s late game heroics lift injured C’s over Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 28: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics scores the game winning basket against the Utah Jazz on March 28, 2018 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 28: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics scores the game winning basket against the Utah Jazz on March 28, 2018 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Poor late-game execution and a Jaylen Brown dagger led to a 97-94 loss for the Utah Jazz at home against a depleted Boston Celtics squad. Here are a few instant reactions from Wednesday night’s heartbreaking loss.

Before the season started, many Utah Jazz fans had Wednesday’s game circled on their calendar as the return of Gordon Hayward to the town that helped mold him into an All-Star. Despite Hayward’s absence due to a gruesome injury on the season’s opening night, this game did not lack in the drama department.

Coming into Wednesday night’s matchup, the Jazz had a chance to climb as high as the West’s fifth seed. With the Boston Celtics missing a handful of key contributors such as Kyrie Irving, Al Horford and Marcus Smart, the Jazz appeared to have a golden opportunity to climb the playoff ladder and further solidify their spot in the postseason.

However, if the season’s first matchup between these two teams taught us anything, it is to not assume a winner simply based on health.

Earlier this season, Utah pulled off a 107-95 victory over the Celtics on the road. Utah’s win was more impressive given the fact that they did it largely without both Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, who were both injured in the contest.

The Celtics rode strong three-point shooting (57 percent) and late game execution to steal the win on the road Wednesday night. Jaylen Brown finished the game with 21 points, including his ice-cold three to win it, and rookie Jayson Tatum added 16 points for Boston.

https://twitter.com/BleacherReport/status/979209804873842690

Without further ado, here are three of my biggest takeaways from Wednesday night’s matchup…

Coaches duel

Wednesday night’s game featured two of the league’s best young coaching minds in a head-to-head duel – Quin Snyder and Brad Stevens.

Stevens, who apparently played a large role in Hayward’s decision to leave Utah, showed just why many consider him to be one of the league’s best coaches.

While Snyder took round one of the season series back in December, Stevens clearly had the upper hand last night. Despite missing four key contributors, Stevens was still able to orchestrate an effective plan to take down one of the NBA’s hottest teams on their home floor.

Wednesday’s game, especially the third quarter, was full of game-changing runs.

Utah opened up an 11-point lead after going on a 15-0 run midway through the third period. Stevens called a timeout that seemed to propel his team to go on a 7-0 run of their own to cut Utah’s lead to just four heading into the final quarter.

While both coaches proved their worth through the game’s first 45 minutes or so, it was Stevens that separated himself in the final three minutes of the showdown.

The Jazz held a six-point lead with over a minute remaining and seemed in full control to secure the win and the fifth seed. Stevens and his ragtag bunch of role players weren’t so ready to throw in the towel. The Celtics finished the game with a 9-0 run, including Brown’s dagger three-pointer with just .3 seconds left on the clock.

The Celtics’ late-game composure combined with some questionable decisions from Snyder (Why not get a two-for-one?), led to a shocking home loss for the Jazz.

Snyder – 1, Stevens – 1

3rd quarter ups and down

After a back and forth first half, the Jazz appeared to take control of the game coming out of the break. Utah scored 15 points off of 10 forced Boston turnovers in the third quarter.

As I mentioned above, Utah went on an impressive 15-0 run in the third quarter to build an 11-point lead over the depleted Boston squad. At this point, Utah appeared to have the game under control and seemed primed to run away with this one.

That was until the Celtics rolled out the 2-3 zone. Yes, you read that right.

The Boston Celtics elected to run the zone defense to close out the quarter. While the 2-3 zone has largely been abandoned in the modern NBA, it helped Boston close the gap and position themselves for a game-stealing fourth quarter.

All season long we have talked about the importance of Utah’s third quarter performances. Wednesday’s game came down to the final three minutes of the third period when Utah had the Celtics on the ropes and failed to put them away.

#5ForTheFight Night

Despite the painful loss, it wasn’t all bad news last night at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

The Utah Jazz celebrated their jersey patch partner, 5 For The Fight, by promoting the organization’s focus on eradicating cancer $5 at a time.

Here is a powerful and touching moment from inside the arena at Wednesday’s #5ForTheFight game…

Win or lose, last night was a powerful example of the good that sports can do in society.

We all know somebody fighting cancer. To help raise money for cancer research, text JAZZ to 50555 to donate $5.

While Wednesday’s loss was tough and may have larger playoff implications down the stretch, the Utah Jazz provided us with a much-needed reminder that there are things that are bigger than sports.

What’s next?

Wednesday’s loss dropped the Jazz to 42-33 on the season and just one game away from falling out of the playoffs entirely.

Utah takes on the 21-54 Memphis Grizzlies at home on Friday night and will try to get back on track at making a late-season push to move back up the Western Conference standings. Utah then travels to Minnesota on Sunday for a pivotal matchup against the Timberwolves.

The Jazz can’t afford to drop many more games (if any?) over the next two weeks if they want to find themselves in the playoffs. #TakeNote

Next: Utah Jazz: Ranking Utah’s potential playoff matchups

Follow me on Twitter @TylerDThorpe for more Utah Jazz insights and analysis.