Biofreeze Keys to the Game: Suns 111, Celtics 103

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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Key Moment

The Phoenix Suns gifted Boston a chance to get back into the game. The Celtics didn’t take advantage of it.

With 4:01 remaining in Wednesday night’s matchup at TD Garden, Devin Booker closed out a bit too hard on Marcus Smart’s deep 3-pointer from the right wing and fouled Smart in the process. That shot allowed the Celtics to make up three points with the clock stopped, which loomed particularly large considering that Smart’s shot attempt was a low-percentage look at the basket.

Boston then got not one, but two stops on Phoenix’s next possession to set up the most important sequence of the game. With less than four minutes remaining, the C’s had their best shot at putting the pressure on the young Suns.

They failed to do so, thanks to three critical misses.

First, Robert Williams stepped to the free-throw line with 3:32 remaining with a chance to cut Boston’s deficit down to four. But he missed both of his attempts to the groans of the Celtics faithful.

Next, after the C’s got another stop on defense and called a timeout, Josh Jackson came up with an impressive blocked shot on Kyrie Irving. Brad Stevens drew up a beautiful play during the timeout to get Irving a look at a layup, and it worked perfectly. However, Jackson made a tremendous defensive play as he trailed Irving and wound up blocking the shot from behind.

Those missed shots by Boston pretty much erased its chance of staging a comeback. Had each player converted on his attempts, it would have been a two-point game with 2:19 remaining. Had Irving made his shot and Williams made just one of his free throws, the C’s still would have been within one possession.

But that wasn’t meant to be. Boston was errant, and the Suns capitalized by opening their lead back up to eight on three separate occasions during the final two-plus minutes before finishing off a 111-103 win.

Key Player

The Celtics are without Al Horford until further notice, and now they’ve lost Aron Baynes to a broken hand for at least the next month. That means Robert Williams is suddenly going to be a key piece of the rotation, and the Celtics need him to step up.

He showcased that he’s capable of doing so Wednesday night as he put forth the best all-around performance of his young career.

While taking on the Suns, Williams set or tied his career high in both points (eight) and blocked shots (five). He also contributed eight rebounds during his 24-plus minutes of play.

Williams shot a perfect 4-for-4 from the field thanks to his size and athleticism around the basket. He finished with three dunks and one tip-in layup off of a Marcus Smart miss.

No, Williams did not lead the Celtics to a victory, but he did show great promise Wednesday night. The Celtics will need more of the same for the foreseeable future.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Three Suns players scored at least 21 points, led by Devin Booker's 25.
  • Kyrie Irving logged the fifth double-double of his season with game highs of 29 points and 10 assists.
  • Boston blocked 15 shots, matching its top team total since the start of the 1983-84 season.
  • Robert Williams (five blocks) and Jayson Tatum (four blocks) played a key role in Boston's team block total.
  • All three of Marcus Smart's made field goals were 3-pointers.
  • Phoenix outrebounded Boston 56-37.
  • Both teams led by at least 12 points during the contest.
  • Deandre Ayton scored 23 points and grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds, which was 10 more than any member of Boston's team grabbed.
  • Kelly Oubre Jr. led all reserves with 13 points.
  • Four of Boston's five reserves who appeared in the game finished with a plus/minus rating of minus-13 or worse.
  • Terry Rozier led Boston's reserves with 12 points.
  • Irving and Smart each grabbed four steals. They combined to grab as many steals as the entire Suns team.

Quote of the Night

Brad Stevens on Boston's rebounding woes moving forward.