The Celtics have jumped to seventh in the league in turnover percentage, with coach Brad Stevens making ball security an emphasis as part of Boston's playoff push.
"That’s one of our five things that we have made a big deal for our team [Wednesday] and moving forward," said Stevens. "We went into the game eighth in the league in turnover percentages, which is good, but last time we allowed Utah back in the game because we threw the ball all over their gym and almost lost that game there. So we placed a huge priority on it. It helps to have Isaiah [Thomas] handling the ball because he’s a hard guy to get it from."
Thomas committed one of Boston's three turnovers, but it came when he was whistled for an offensive foul. Tyler Zeller and Avery Bradley got tagged with the other two giveaways for fumbling the ball away in the third quarter.
Boston didn't allow a single point off of a turnover in Wednesday's game. By comparison, the Celtics generated 13 points off Utah's 14 turnovers.
"We were decisive, we played with energy, and we made the right plays for the most part," said Thomas.
OLYNYK RETURNS TO ACTION
Second-year big man Kelly Olynyk returned to game action Wednesday after missing 18 games due to a right ankle injury.
Olynyk, sidelined since Jan. 22, missed all three shots he took and finished scoreless in 7 minutes, 14 seconds of first-half action. Stevens tightened his rotation in the second half, leaning on newcomer Jonas Jerebko as one of the backup bigs.
"I thought Kelly was fine. I thought he looked tentative in shooting the basketball," said Stevens. "But he was in plays and I thought he looked fine moving. Again, we don't get a chance to practice, so this is his practice. That was good to get a few minutes of game time in, up and down the floor, make him feel better. And then Friday he'll be ready to roll."
HAYWARD'S HARD WORK
If Zeller didn't rescue the Celtics on the game's final play, then Gordon Hayward's 14-foot pull-up jumper over Zeller with 1.7 seconds to play would have been the difference in the game. Stevens was asked about how it would have felt to see his former pupil sink his current team.
"Big shot. I've seen him shoot it before; seen him hit it before," said Stevens. "He's a special player. I found him right after the game and I'll talk to him a little bit before they leave. But you take a lot of pride in watching his success because you know where he came from and you know what he puts into it."
PRAISE FOR JAZZ DEFENSE
The Jazz only further entrenched their status as the league's best defense since the All-Star break with Wednesday's effort. Asked what he'll take from the game, Stevens raved about Utah's defensive play.
"The No. 1 thing I walk out of here with is: Damn, their defense is good," said Stevens. "Like that’s an outstanding defense, and it’s got the potential to be an outstanding defense for a long time, with that length."