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Completion of the GAME PREVIEW: Suns Vs. Celtics

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PHX Stan laid the groundwork here, so I'm going to grab the baton and finish this thing:

The Celtics overall have had a good December, going 10-3 with victories over San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Orlando. Still, they managed to lose to the lowly Clippers and Warriors, not to mention Philadelphia. They enter this game on a two game slide, last losing to the Warriors at Golden State.

As you may have read Rajon Rondo (hamstring) and Kevin Garnett (leg) are at the least questionable for this game. Glen Davis and Paul Pierce are out, which leaves Brian Scalabrine and Shelden Williams to bear the brunt of front line minutes for the battered Celtics (welcome to the NBA, where even the best teams cannot run and hide from the injury bug).

We could say, "awesome, the big two for the Celts are down, we got this!" But we all know how dangerous that kind of thinking is. The Suns mentality in this one needs to be the same as the Lakers, play loose (not stupidly), and of course, consider the Celtics at full strength, put pressure on them early, run (a lot), space the floor, make shots, and with our Nike's on their throats, stomp and suffocate them.

What Do the Celtics and Suns Have in Common?

Does this sound familiar? From Danny Ainge:

"... we’re not playing as hard as we can play for 48 minutes...we think we can show up for a quarter or a half, and that’s not good enough in this league...this is the second stretch where we really haven’t really shown up. The urgency of winning from the get-go hasn’t been important enough.’’

Other than that, the teams are very different in at least one category-defense:

TEAM

OPP PPG

OPP FG%

OPP RBPG

OPP OFF RBPG

OPP 3PT%

TO

DEF NBA RANK (PTS ALLOWED)

CELTICS

91.9

43.9

39.5

11.0

31.3

16.0

1

SUNS

106.0

45.8

42.9

13.5

36.9

13.0

29

On November 5, the Suns beat the Celtics, in Boston, 110-103. The mantra of that night was "Compete on the Boards." In that game, the Suns hung close in the rebounding category, only losing 42-39 to an obviously oversized Celtics squad who managed 12 offensive rebounds. Yet in this game, Garnett was held to 8 rebounds, which is respectable, considering Garnett is Garnett.

The key in the last meeting was not only did the Suns battle on the boards and limit Paul Pierce to 16 points on 5 of 15 shooting, they packed it in and let the likes of Rasheed Wallace and others bomb away from the outside, which of course led to 16 missed three pointers en route to a 2-18 performance from long range.

The other key to that game were strong performances Steve Nash (16/12) who battled the younger and tenacious Rajon Rondo, Amare Stoudemire, (22/10), who took on Kevin Garnett in their typical matchup that ends up nasty, and oh, Jason Richardson, who poured in 34 points to accompany 10 rebounds following his 0-for against Orlando.

Keys to this game:

  •  Forget about Monday night, it was only one game 
  •  Don't look at the injury report
  •  Run early and often
  •  Make shots
  •  REBOUND (of course)
  •  Play 48 minutes of energetic, smart basketball