Preview: Phoenix Suns (12-24) at Boston Celtics (17-17)


Boston Celtics 87, Phoenix Suns 79

Suns

Suns

Celtics

Celtics

The first 36 games of the season are gone, and it’s already that point of the season.

People are already beginning to count the Los Angeles Lakers out of the playoff equation — they’ll certainly have to make a stellar run at some point to change that — so the much worse-off Suns could very well be resigned to looking forward to the NBA Draft. Obviously, there’s still a large number of games for Phoenix to build upon something positive.

At this point, however, most teams have found their identity — or they already know it. The Boston Celtics put it off, but certainly they’ve begun to lock into their usual success. Unfortunately for Phoenix and head coach Alvin Gentry, they’ll head to T.D. Garden on Wednesday to face a team on a three-game winning streak, a team that has harnessed enough of its old swagger to get under Carmelo Anthony’s thick skin.

Phoenix could only wish it had a similar blueprint for success.

Boston will have a fresh Rajon Rondo in tow after the dynamic point guard served a one-game suspension on Monday against the New York Knicks for bumping into official Rodney Mott during Saturday’s game against Atlanta. The Celtics won without their motor, and Kevin Garnett jabbered enough to spur Anthony’s wait at the bus stop. It was a significant outcome for the Boston team that has gone 17-17 thus far but is picking up steam at a critical point in the year for most NBA clubs.

The jolt in Boston’s meanstreak has led to strong defensive efforts, and the Celtics have held opponents in the last three games to 37.6 percent shooting.

Even worse news for the Suns is Boston’s affinity for the mid-range jumper — the team hits 44.8 percent of those to lead the NBA, according to HoopData.com. As CelticsHub.com’s Michael Pina pointed out this week, Doc Rivers’ team could use more three-point shooting. But lucky for them, Phoenix not only allows the highest effective three-point field goal percentage but also the highest overall percentage (42.3 percent) for shots 16-23 feet out, according to HoopData.com.

That may be why Garnett, one of the best mid-range shooters in the league, is averaging 24.6 points and 11.8 rebounds against Phoenix in his last 17 meetings with the Suns.

While Phoenix’s defensive efforts have been hard to judge — perhaps because they’re so inconsistent — the numbers show the Suns’ habits won’t match up well with Boston.

There’s clarity in where the Suns are going this year, and it’d be a surprise if the Celtics did anything but do enough in the regular season to make the playoffs.

Boston will continue to do what they’ve done for the entirety of the Garnett era. Meanwhile, the lost Suns wish they had such a past to at least give them an idea of what they should expect from themselves.

  • Sillmarillion

    I see a tough loss incoming…

  • jones

    Another DNP-CD for Beasley.
    Another loss.

    Higher Lottery Chances.

    All WINs in Alvin’s book.

  • Ty-Sun

    Put Tucker on Garnett at the beginning of the game. Garnett will get so pissed off at his pesky defense that he will get tossed out of the game by halftime.

    Or start Beasley against Garnett… that should help his “confidence” immensely.

    Seriously though, I just hope the Suns don’t get badly embarrassed in this game. A win is just too much to hope for in Boston.

  • Ty-Sun

    Sorry for the double post but if the Suns just play hard in this game is a good sign.

    We are almost at the mid-season point and even a hard fought loss would tell me that the players we have haven’t given up. That also says something about Gentry. If he can still motivate them at this point then he still has a case for a contract extension… or another NBA job even if you think the Suns need a new head coach.

    Let’s face facts. This season is already over for the Suns. There will be no 7th/8th seed playoff berth and at best a quick 4-1 exit from the first round of the playoffs this year. Place the blame wherever you want but facts are facts and the Suns are going nowhere except the lottery this year.

    Hopefully the front office will eventually admit this and tell Gentry to try to develop some of the younger players for the rest of the season. If they don’t, THAT will show that the real problem in Phoenix is in the FO.

    There are quite a few people who post on this site that I think could make decisions at least as good as those made by the Suns’ current FO. There are very few who I can think of that would make worse decisions so if Sarver is determined to go cheap in hiring, pick someone from here to run your team for you! I’m sure a lot of us couldn’t do much worse and would do the work for much less.

  • Luka

    Keep tanking and save your draft picks. We’re on pace to get a top 5 draft selection. They will also get a top 14 pick from LA, maybe a little higher if LA misses the playoffs. Get a SG/SF with the top 5 pick. Draft a back-up C with the Lakers pick. Then use the cap room this offseason and make a run at Paul Millsap from Utah.

  • that dude

    “OH NO WE SUCK AGAIN” Cardinals are just like the Suns .. Promote from within so Bidwill/Sarver can run the show while paying the GM what us regular fans would love to have for a salary.. Yes I still watch every game and I don’t get pissed anymore when they lose in hopes we will finally land that top pick in next years draft .. They went hard after Eric Gordon and how many games has he played in the last 2 years? They sign buster ass Beasley to a ridiculos deal and let OJ go since they didnt see him as a starter .. Good job Sarver, atta boy!!!!

  • Polish_fan

    Ty-Sun u think HE is reading it and I can leave my phone number? ;-)

  • that dude

    Go ahead and take on Rudy Gay’s ridiculous 2.5 yrs left to show the few die hard fans who know nothing about basketball that you’re committed to ‘winning’. Do the right thing and trade Gortat before he gets injured and get younger while adding more draft picks!!!!

    Hej moj Gorane, sto si doso u Phx baksuze jedan haha.. Al nek si dobio svoju lovu boli te kurac!

  • Cam

    Tonight I predict that Gortat gets 40+ minutes of court time. Gentry is gonna be told by the FO to ride Gortat all night to pump up his stat line. It’s gonna be an audition/precursor to a Gortat to Boston trade. Tonight Gortat is gonna put up a 20/15 line. I would bet my left nut on that! Go Suns.

  • azbballfan

    If the Suns keep getting burned on the road and at home all the way to the all-star break, expectations would have to logically come down from

    Marginal Playoff team to lets blow it up and prepare for the future.

    If the Suns come into the break, say, 20 games below 500 and they dont start putting the young players in, i would say ownership or FO is not in touch with reality.

    The Suns have been doing this “make a panic trade to ge to the 1st round of playoffs”for a while now.

    and its costs them nothing but all-star or solid players in draft picks

    going back to the Suns 26-56 season in which we sold the 7th overall pick loul deng to chicago for basically nothing.

    If the GMs of the thunder and heat drink some spiked punch at a party and decide to give us lebron and durant for our players then SURE!

    but if your gonna trade future assets for winning now you cant be sitting at 11-24 and 2-15 on the road and non existent defense and rebounding.

    Given the players we have acquired since stoudemire left, i cant exactly trust the Suns to make the right move either.

    it may not be there fault, there may be another factor involved and everyone is just unlucky that Childress wasnt as good as we thought he was, that Turkoglu didnt fit with us, and that our last 2 picks we were just reading the signs wrong.

    How do the Suns evaluate talent?

    because i can understand a swing and a miss on a free agent or draft pick

    but when everyone you sign, not including telfair and dragic has been below expectations i have to conclude that the evaluation process needs refinement

  • Cam

    With Varejao out 6-8 weeks Gortat’s value goes up even more. Addition by subtraction. Now if the question is can the FO parlay their valuable chips into young talent or future picks. I think a fan base of a sports team would be willing to deal with a couple losing seasons as long as the future seems promising. Stockpiling young talent and picks might appease the majority of Suns fans, myself included. I will honestly say, I was excited to see the Suns sign Beasley. Too bad his play has been atrocious. Nonetheless, I agree with azbbalfan. I’m not a professional scout so what do I know, but how are the Suns failing so miserably in the free agent/draft process? Go Suns.

  • azbballfan

    I think Charlotte for example has a bright future ahead

    with some good prospects, high draft picks, and cap space.

    They blew up the team after getting mangled in the playoffs by the magic, and while last season was apocalyptic, this season they are playing much better.

    MKG, Biyombo, and Walker, plus some more lotto picks things are building toward something in charlotte

    The Suns would do well to take note

    T

  • Scott

    Interesting that the Suns played fairly well against the starters for the Celtics, but got thumped by their bench.

  • cdubbb

    Suns would do well to take note of the most poorly managed franchise over the past 5 years? Lol okay

    Well they have been losing and finishing with the worse or close to worse record in the NBA for years now. Eventually after sucking so bad for so long you are gonna get better. Thats exactly what our FO has expressed they are against… SUCKING FOR YEARS.

    If you want to look at a MUCH BETTER “business model,” look at Golden State.

  • Geminid670

    Lon Babby said in a KTAR interview that the Suns are ‘right on schedule’.

    Is Starman projected to be the #7 pick in the draft?

  • azbballfan

    The Bobcats have only been around since 2004

    Golden State may be doing well now, but outside of several years ago when they beat Dallas in the 1st round, they have made the playoffs i think once in 15 years?

    They only improved because they got new ownership that committed to defense.

    Charlotte is a expansion franchise and since blowing the team up have acquired some good young talent thats only gonna improve under coach dunlap

    Charlotte is doing the righr thing

    It doesnt really matter that the last couple of years have been really bad, what matters is almost none of the front office that was around then, is there now, and they have a plan going forward.

    OKC wouldnt have been so successful if they had made panic trades and swung and missed on whats like 3 draft picks in a row now. (Clark, Morris, Marshall)

    Ironically Earl Clark who the suns took 14th overall in 2009 and never gave a chance just had a great game for the Lakers

    Lopez is also doing well with the Hornets.

    The Suns cant seem to pick the right players, and then compound that by not even developing the players they keep

  • Cody

    If you guys only look at stats then yes I could see why you think Dragic isn’t passing, but if you watch every game like I do you would see guys bricking open shots and missing lay ups off his feeds, also you would see he should get a hockey assist every time he drives in dishes off which leads someone like Scola or Gortat open, now he doesn’t get credit for those assists but it’s the right play. Another is Phoenix doesn’t have good 3 point shooters and they have guys that are ball stoppers, they get an open look but instead try to wait for someone and go into an iso which leads to bad shots (I’m looking at you Shannon Brown) but watch the games and you will see Goran definitely not selfish

  • cdubbb

    Michael Jordan is still there and he is the main force behind all things Bobcats per numerous reports. Besides, you took what I said out of context.

    You said we should take notes of how the Bobcats have done things. Well lets look how they have done things. Traded away or lost ALL of their good players ( Dudley, Wallace, Jackson, etc) and pretty much have been tanking every year for the past 4 seasons. New coaches, new GMs, new players, wasted draft picks… and only have one truly talented player to show for it. 2 if you want to count Kemba who still has tons of ???s. On top of all that, they still suck! They are not even a remotely good team and likely wont be for another few years.

    Is that really the model you want to follow? These threads would be unbearable to read if we followed the bobcats model.

    Now think about how GS has done it. They have improved through FA and draft while staying competitive and not blowing everything up, now with Barnes, lee, curry, thompson they look very good.

    Like I said staying competitive and rebuilding>blowing up and rebuilding… as long as you do it right which we seem to be

  • cdubbb

    And I dont even want to hear about Earl Clark lol. He did absolutely nothing here. He had his chances and could never produce. Same as when he went to Orlando. I was actually a fan of the Clark pick, he was supposed to give us what we ended up getting out of Morris who is a much better player as of right now. Glad to see Clark have a good game, i actually watched that game and he did actually look okay out there, but one good game in 3+ years aint gonna cut it. Plus how many Suns fans were crying about how bad Clark was and how he was a wasted pick and how Kerr was dumb for drafting him…. TONSSSSSSSS