Complacency could be creeping in for the Boston Celtics, who are nonetheless cruising toward the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Phoenix Suns have no such margin for error as they battle for the West's top spot.

The Suns - one of only two teams Boston hasn't beaten this season - look to complete a season sweep Wednesday when they visit the Celtics, who are trying to avoid their first three-game home losing streak of 2007-08.

Despite dropping their last two overall, the Celtics (55-15) still hold a five-game lead and the tiebreaker over Detroit for the No. 1 seed in the East with 12 games to play.

Phoenix (47-23) nearly helped Boston draw closer to securing the top spot Monday, but lost 110-105 in overtime to the Pistons to snap a seven-game winning streak. The Suns fell despite shooting 50 percent for the seventh straight game, as Amare Stoudemire had 33 points and Steve Nash added 23 and nine assists.

The Suns are averaging 118.6 points and shooting 56.4 percent in their last seven games, but the defeat left them 1 1/2 games out of first place in the crowded West standings.

"This would have been huge for us in the Western Conference, but it obviously wasn't in the cards," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Now we have to go to Boston and try to get one there."

Several Phoenix players expressed problems with the game's officiating, especially a foul called on Nash in overtime that gave the Pistons' Chauncey Billups a three-point play.

"It's tough to take when you feel like you played well enough to win, but you feel like the win was taken away from you," Nash said.

The Suns, in the midst of a four-game road trip versus East opponents, had won nine straight road games against that conference before Monday. Phoenix is 22-5 against the East this season.

That includes an 85-77 home win over Boston on Feb. 22, when the Celtics recorded their lowest point total of the season and Phoenix matched its stingiest defensive effort of 2007-08.

The Celtics have lost three straight games only once this season - the third of that stretch coming at Phoenix - and they haven't dropped three in a row at home since losing the final four games at TD Banknorth Garden last season.

Boston dropped its final home game before a five-game trip 110-92 to Utah on March 14, then blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead Monday in a 95-90 defeat to Philadelphia in their first game after the trip.

Celtics forward Kevin Garnett had 18 points against the 76ers, who went on a 19-0 run after falling behind 80-69 with just over eight minutes remaining. Boston had been 48-6 when entering the final quarter with a lead.

"These games are crucial to us, too," Garnett said. "We are trying to establish something, and a rhythm going into the playoffs. So these are big games for us, too, just as it is for all the other teams coming in here."

The Suns have won their last five games in Boston, as well as five straight overall against the Celtics.

Boston continues its homestand Friday against New Orleans - the only other team the Celtics haven't beaten this season.


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