Kemba Walker defends Chris Paul in Phoenix

Pregame Post-Ups: Phoenix's Success Goes Deeper Than CP3

Thursday, April 22 - Suns at Celtics

Pregame – Phoenix's Elite Run is About More Than Chris Paul

Turns out, Phoenix’s 8-0 run inside last season’s NBA bubble wasn’t a fluke.

Many sports pundits have attempted to claim that Phoenix’s addition of All-Star point guard Chris Paul is what has sparked Phoenix to the second-best record in the league, at 42-16. Brad Stevens, whose Celtics will face off against the Suns tonight, disagrees.

“I think you saw it starting in the bubble, with the way that they were playing,” Stevens said ahead of tip-off. “Obviously we saw them in an exhibition game there and they went 8-0 in the bubble. They were getting great play all across the board. I think that the way that they all fit together is really good, and I think (head coach) Monty (Williams) has done a great job. You can see the growth in (Devin) Booker as a playmaker and decision-maker in addition to his already elite scoring ability.”

Then you throw a surefire, future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer into the mix and the Suns have become a legitimate title contender.

“I think that all of those things combined, and then the icing on the cake is adding Chris Paul, because now you’ve got a guy that just makes every right decision,” Stevens said of Phoenix’s addition of the all-time great. “It becomes so contagious when you watch them play. It just feels like he’s controlling the game, and he’s super special to watch and very hard to play against.”

Boston is an underdog heading into this game and the C’s fully understand that they’ll need to play at a high level in order to upend the visiting Suns. Stevens said his team must take care of the ball in order to have a shot at depositing a notch in the win column tonight.

Stevens called this matchup “a possession-to-possession game” before adding the following:

“And so if you just throw away possessions – and we’ve had a tendency to be loose with the ball, we’ve had a tendency to do that, and we’ve been fortunate in this stretch prior to Monday where we’ve found ways to win, but we haven’t always been as good in the meat of the game. So hopefully we’re better possession to possession. That’s the emphasis this morning heading into tonight’s game.”

And that might be the only way the Celtics can take down a Suns team that has been elite since the league’s restart last July.

- Marc D'Amico


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