What: Phoenix Suns (22-50) at Boston Celtics (46-26)
When: 4:30PM AZ Time
Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA
TV: Fox Sports AZ, NBA League Pass. Radio: 98.7FM, 1400AM (Spanish)
Wins and losses haven't mattered to the Suns for a couple of months now, yet the games roll on. Last night, they were demolished in Brooklyn by the worst-in-league Nets, which you would think has to be rock bottom, right?
Not so fast. This is a Suns team that decided to "shut down" Tyson Chandler, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight for the rest of the season for...reasons. Add injuries and illness to those decisions, and there ain't no valley low enough to represent how awful this team can play these last few weeks.
But again, the games go on. Youngsters Tyler Ulis, Derrick Jones, Jr, Marquese Chriss, Alan Williams and Jarell Eddie get the chance to show what they can do.
Will Ulis and Williams continue posting double-doubles? Will Chriss continue his second half improvement? Will Jones, Jr. one day hit a 3 point shot? Is Jarell Eddie's name not actually Eddie Jarell? All these questions will be answered, and more! OK, maybe actually less, but you're a fan and they're playing so here we are.
Believe it or not, the Celtics are within striking distance of the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, only 1 game behind the defending champion Cavaliers. Still a slim chance they secure that top spot, but they're solidly #2, which would mean avoiding LeBron and company until the conference finals, should the playoff series hold to form.
They're led by former Sun and current All-Star Isaiah Thomas' 29 PPG, with a 122 O-Rating and 26.5 PER. He scores a lot, and does it efficiently. Complaining about how the Suns gave IT up for next to nothing (low first round pick) is one of my favorite pastimes, though other fans on Twitter note that IT would never be this successful had he stayed in Phoenix. For some reason, that's not comforting.
As a team, the Celtics are 8th in O-Rating and 12th in D-Rating, an average per game score of 107.4-104.9. In no way a juggernaut or a real threat to the Cavs in the East this year, barring a rash of Cavs injuries, they're still a team on the rise with several intriguing youngsters and more high picks on the way (due to fleecing the Nets in Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce deal).
GM Danny Ainge has his team in very nice position, in part thanks to his former pupil Ryan McDonough gifting him the player who is currently 3rd in the league in PPG. I love being a Suns fan.
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Tyler Ulis vs. Isaiah Thomas
SG: Devin Booker vs. Avery Bradley
SF: T. J. Warren vs. Jae Crowder
PF: Marquese Chriss vs. Amir Johnson
C: Alex Len vs. Al Horford
Celtics 120, Suns 99