Where: TD Garden - Boston, MA
When: 5:30 p.m. (AZ) 7:30 p.m. (East coast time)
Watch: FSAZ (locally) / NBA League Pass
Listen: AZ SPORTS 98.7 FM
After a rough loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night, the Phoenix Suns should look at this five game Eastern Conference trip as a clean slate. The Suns need to rebound from back-to-back losses with a successful road trip, and they have a great opportunity to do so with four of the five away games being played against sub-.400 teams. Now would be a good time for the Suns to start figuring things out about themselves, with 21 of the next 30 games on the road, and feasting on lowly Eastern Conference teams would be a great way to raise confidence and optimism. First up on the trip is the Boston Celtics.
The Boston Celtics are coming off a heartbreaker of a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers (122-121), after a fourth quarter meltdown. They've put together wins against the Brooklyn Nets and the Chicago Bulls, but are an otherwise unimpressive 3-5. The Celtics are a young team with some nice athletes. They're likely not playoff bound, but they could give most teams a run for their money behind the coaching of Brad Stevens. The Suns can't walk into this game expecting a win.
Probable starting line ups
Phoenix Suns - Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Miles Plumlee
Boston Celtics - Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk
What to watch for
The Celtics sport a feisty guard rotation with Rondo, Bradley, and rookie Marcus Smart. Rondo is a pesky defender averaging 1.9 steals per game, while Bradley is your classic lockdown defender. Smart is a lot like Bledsoe, in that he is strong, fast, athletic, and has a monstrous 6'9 wingspan. Dragic, Bledsoe, and Isaiah Thomas will have their work cut out for them on offense against the Celtics guards.
From a front court standpoint, the Celtics big men Olynyk and Sullinger average 14.4 and 15.0 points per game, respectively. Both have the capability to step out to the three; Sullinger has struggled with this long game this season, but Olynyk is shooting a juicy 48% on 3s. However, neither player offers much rim protection; The Suns big men should really have their way with these guys.
Small forward Jeff Green is the team's leading scorer at 18.9 ppg, so Mook Morris and PJ Tucker will have to keep him in check. The Celtics occasionally play small ball with Green at the power forward, so watch out for that too.
As a team, the Celtics put up 106.6 points per game, which ranks 3rd in the NBA, but also are 28th in the league in points allowed at 108.4 per game (That discrepancy between offense and defense just about tells you all you need to know about this team). Expect a high scoring affair between 3rd and 8th best offenses in the league.
The Suns are coming off back to back losses against the Charlotte Hornets and the Los Angeles Clippers. They will look to avoid their first three game losing streak of the season, and should take care of business in Boston.
The Suns still look like a team that still doesn't know exactly who they are. Having some easy opponents on the slate will hopefully give them a chance to start figuring things out, and it starts with the Celtics tonight.
Prediction: Suns 115, Celtics 105