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Game Preview - Suns vs Celtics

2008/2009 NBA Regular Season
31-23 44-12
US Airway Center
February 22nd, 2009, 12:30 PM MST / 2:30PM EST
ABC HD, 620 AM
Probable starters:
Steve Nash PG R. Rondo
Leandro Barbosa SG R. Allen
Jason Richardson SF P. Pierce
Grant Hill PF B. Scalabrine
Shaquille O'Neal C K. Perkins
Official Suns Game Notes

This preview brought to you by Mike Lisboa who wasn't able to actually bring it to you due to technical difficulties. He lives in California which is probably a factor.

I was driving home trying to figure out a theme for my Sun-Celts preview and coming up empty when fortunately I flipped my radio over to a classic rock station and Van Halen bailed me out. I changed stations just in time to catch the chorus of “Runnin’ with the Devil.”

Which of course is what the Suns are doing. In rejecting Terry Porter’s slow-it-down-to-a-crawl offensive philosophy and returning to “ludicrous speed” as one commenter put it, Alvin Gentry and the Suns have chosen the devil they know over the devil they didn’t.

And why the hell not? There’s rich irony in the Suns scoring 140 points in 3 consecutive games 18 years after, ahem, a Terry Porter-led offense did it the last time. And a 3 game win streak (insert 13-win caveat here) is just what the doctor ordered for a team and a fanbase that was rapidly losing both faith and swagger.

This game was supposed to be the Amar’eless born-again run-and-fun Suns first real test, but that will apparently have to wait until Thursday’s tilt against the Lakers. Which is not to say these Celtics, even without Kevin Garnett, are slouches. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are both legitimate threats to dominate this game given the Suns lack of a lockdown defender at either the 2 or the 3. But when the defending champs are missing The Big Ticket, it does take a significant bite out of their game.

With any luck it will be a tight game. As Alvin Gentry has already said, the 140 Or Bust offense will definitely be “bust” against the Association’s 2nd stingiest defense. But I still think the Suns have the will and the momentum to turn this into a track meet. If the Suns can control the tempo, I like their chances. As creaky and aged as Steve Nash, Shaquille O’Neal and Grant Hill are, they’re at least practiced at the fine art of warp speed basketball giving them an edge over the Celtics’ reconstituted big 3 of Pierce, Allen and Rajon Rondo.

It’s going to be a battle of wills. If the Suns can crank up the pace, I like their chances of stealing this one from Boston. If the Celts manage to slow it down, it could be a long day and yet another nationally televised embarrassment for the Purple Gang. I’m calling it 117-110 for our boys.

Follow along in the comments. Being a nationally televised game, I won’t be doing a live blog play-by-play, but I’ll be present with plenty o’ pith and snark. Enjoy!

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