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Jazz open Eastern stretch against Celtics
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Jazz open a stretch of eight straight games against Eastern Conference opponents Monday night, when they play host to the Boston Celtics.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will be televised on ROOT.

The Jazz are 13-6 against the East so far this season, including 7-1 at home.

After playing Boston, Utah faces Atlanta and Charlotte, also at EnergySolutions Arena. Following a trip next week to Milwaukee, Cleveland, Chicago, New York, it plays Detroit at home on March 11.

If the past success against Eastern Conference opponents continues, the Jazz could solidify their position in the hunt for a playoff berth in the next two weeks.

With a record of 31-25, Utah is currently seventh in the Western Conference, two games behind sixth-place Golden State and one game ahead of No. 8 Houston.

By the time the Jazz visit Oklahoma City on March 13, they'll have only 18 games remaining in the regular season.

Meanwhile, the Celtics are 29-27 so far, including a 98-93 win over the Jazz on Nov. 14 in Boston. They are seventh in the East.

"I look at it like they're one of those teams you really have to come out and compete against," said Jazz center Al Jefferson. "... They are going to play hard and play to win, so you have to match their energy."

Jefferson scored only 13 points in the first game of the year against Boston, partly because of Kevin Garnett's defensive effort.

Asked about their matchup tonight, Jefferson said, "Garnett, man, he's going to take pride on his defense and play with high energy. I'm sorry, he just doesn't look like he's 36 years old. To me, he always plays at a high level."

With the exception of point guard Mo Williams, the Jazz are healthy going into the game against Boston.

While Williams remains sidelined after undergoing thumb surgery, Gordon Hayward has put the shoulder injury that caused him to miss 10 games in the rear-view mirror.

In the two games since his return — a 115-101 win over Golden State and a 107-94 loss to the L.A. Clippers — Hayward has averaged 20 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

The Celtics will play without All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, who is sidelined for the year after suffering a knee injury.

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