The Main Story
So many wonderful memories…
A mini-rivalry was formed last year between the Suns and the Celtics, largely in part to their two elite-level pests. But what we’ve seen in the first game was an event for the ages.
Kevin Garnett actually picked on someone his own size.
In other news, the Celtics lost once and won once back then. They won at home, where they’ll be facing the Suns tonight, the only time in this shortened season.
Rajon Rondo will sit the game out with a wrist injury, as reported by Doc Rivers, which will give the starting job to Avery Bradley. Steve Nash is going to have fun tonight, and let’s see how exactly.
The real magic in the matchup starts in the offence-defence game the Suns seem to have an advantage in. The Celtics are no longer the great defensive club they used to be (thanks in part to their Kendrick Perkins move) and their ever aging squad. Their pick and roll defence is ranked 14th in the league according to MySynergySports.Com (0.83 points against per posession) and against the best pick and roll team in the league (0.98 points per possession) it might be a problem, especially with Rondo out. Remember the first game against the Celtics last year? It was Marcin Gortat’s first big game, as he scored a then-career high 19 points. Now that he’s established himself, I wouldn’t be surprised if he sets a new one (his current is at 25).
Can the Suns stop the Celtics, though? The defence has fluctuated a lot for the Suns. They had 5 really good outings, followed up by 5 terrible ones, and now, in New York, they managed to have a good one. What do the Suns have to watch out for on D, then? Ray Allen, who will take one of the guards for a little spin in a game of tag. Allen will run around screens looking for a single open look and Ronnie Price, Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown will have to lock him down as much as they can. Which should be easier without Rondo to spoil the party with good passes.
The Suns should however avoid turnovers like fire. Rajon Rondo may be out, but Avery Bradley is still a pretty quick young guard and you don’t want Steve Nash trying to run him down in transition. Just take care of the ball in the half-court, mkay?
What’s the final predicament? It’d be good to annoy Kevin Garnett again. It’d also be good to abuse Avery Bradley, and it would be best if the Suns managed to ride their pick and roll prowess to some solid offensive flow, and hopefully a win.
There were a lot of dumb losses that shouldn’t have happened for the Suns recently, hopefully, this one will be one of those unexpected wins that boost a team’s spirits.
An Awkward Reunion
This day might be even weirder for Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus, long time Orlando and Suns teammates who have been separated by a failed trade with Toronto and subsequent buyout of the Frenchman. Watch for Pietrus to take this game personally. Ok, maybe not as personally as Kevin Garnett, but still, pretty personally.
Pietrus was not the only former Sun to be dumped to the Celtics for virtually nothing. Rajon Rondo was traded to the Celtics just after the Suns drafted him with their 21st pick in the 2006 NBA draft for cash considerations and a 1st round draft pick from Cleveland that was later used to draft Rudy Fernandez who was subsequently traded to Portland. What a roller coaster. And now he’s sitting out. For once.
Yes, I will remind you of this glaring incompetence every time “Rajon Rondo” and “The Suns” are mentioned in one sentenced. Bummer, huh?
Hall of Fame Exhibition Game?
You could make a Future Hall of Fame starting five out of the veteran talent on both teams. Steve Nash, Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Grant Hill are all Hall of Famers, the first 3 being sure fire first balloters, while Ray and Grant are second balloters at most. Whatever the case, we’re going to be seeing these 5 guys in Springfield very very soon.
Who? You ask. Greg Stiemsma is a D-League call-up Center who is incidentally a shot blocking machine. He’s currently averaging 1.6 blocks in 10 minutes of play. That’s 5.2 blocks per 36.
Watch out for him inside. Just watch out.