Watch It! – Celtics at Suns
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns meet at 10 p.m. tonight at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Boston Carrying Momentum into 5-game Roadie
The Boston Celtics are right where they want to be as they head into their arduous five-game trip out West.
After losing four straight during the middle of March, Boston has now won three in a row and is coming off an impressive 91-79 win over second-place Toronto Wednesday night.
"We wanted some confidence and momentum going into this tough West Coast trip and we got it,” said Isaiah Thomas following Wednesday’s win. “We wanted these three games and we got them."
Now, lets see if that momentum can carry over tonight in Phoenix, and beyond.
Celts Battling Illness
Hopefully sickness does not impact that momentum, given that a couple of Celtics have been feeling under the weather lately.
Avery Bradley did not travel with the team to Arizona yesterday due to an undisclosed illness. He is the second Celtic that has battled sickness recently; Terry Rozier exited Wednesday’s game with an illness as well, though he did return later in the contest.
Hopefully Rozier is feeling up to par by tonight, because he will surely be needed if Bradley’s condition does not permit him to travel and/or play.
Boston also recalled James Young and Coty Clarke from the Maine Red Claws this morning, so those two could provide aid as well, if needed.
Fast Pace should Return for C’s
Illness or no illness, Boston’s offense should not be slowed like it was during Wednesday’s low-scoring win over the Raptors.
The Celtics were held to just 80 field goal attempts during that contest, which marked it third-lowest total of the season. That low tally was a direct result of the fact that Toronto plays at the third-slowest pace in the NBA (95.45 possessions per game).
Phoenix is on the other end of the spectrum in that category. The Suns play at the fourth-fastest pace in the NBA (100.48), one spot behind the high-octane Celtics offense (101.12).
Boston got off 96 shot attempts during its 117-103 win against the Suns on Jan. 15. Expect a similar fast-paced type of game when these teams meet again tonight.
Youth Movement on the Sidelines
Brad Stevens was the youngest head coach in the NBA at the start of the 2015-16 season. He’s now dropped to No. 3 on that list after the mid-season hiring’s of 38-year-old Tyronn Lue (Cleveland) and 36-year-old Earl Watson (Phoenix).
The Suns tipped off the month of February by losing their first nine games under Watson, and have gone 6-17 during his tenure thus far.
Thirty-nine-year-old Stevens, meanwhile, has been experiencing tremendous success during his third season with the Celtics. Wednesday night he clinched the first winning campaign of his NBA coaching career, when the C’s won their 42nd game of the season.
Knight’s Status up in the Air
Suns starting guard Brandon Knight recently returned from an adductor strain that sidelined him from Jan. 21 to March 10. He excelled during his first seven games back; however, he unexpectedly sat out of last night’s game in Sacramento and is listed as questionable tonight.
Considering that Phoenix’s other starting guard, Eric Bledsoe, is out for the season with a torn left meniscus, Knight’s presence is vital to its chances of winning.
The Suns went just 4-17 during Knight’s absence, then proceeded to win three out of seven when he returned two weeks ago.
Knight is posting 19.4 points, 5.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game this season, and tallied 16 points during a game-high 40 minutes of play when the Suns faced Boston in January.