Jan 9, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Phoenix Suns shooting guard Jared Dudley (3) dunks the ball against Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns (18-37) vs. Boston Celtics (28-26) Preview

Despite all the talks and rumors, the two great Celtics, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett remain in green after all.

“I can’t worry about that,” said Pierce in regards to the rumors. “I’ve got a job to do and they’ve got to do what’s best for the franchise. I’ve always understood that this is just a business.”

Going into tonight’s game between the Suns and Celtics, the Celtics are the favorites by a 2.5 point margin according to ESPN.com. The Suns are injury free with the exception of Channing Frye who’s expected to be out for the season. The Celtics on the other hand, will be without Rajon Rondo, Leandro Barbosa and rookie Jared Sullinger, all three players are expected to miss the remainder of the season.

Keys to the game: Suns

– Pound the ball inside! The Celtics are a small team with Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett starting in their frontcourt which means minimal shot-blocking.

– The Dragon! Goran Dragic has to be aggressive and attack the basket! He’s averaging 16.5 points, 8.1 assists and 39.4% shooting from downtown in Suns wins this season. In Suns losses, he averages 13 points, 5.9 assists, and 28% shooting from downtown.

– Three-point defense! The Suns allowed the Warriors to torch them for ten three-pointers on twenty attempts in the Suns loss two nights ago. This Celtics team may not be the same shooting team the Warriors are but the Suns have to be on their heels.

Keys to the game: Celtics 

– Guard defense. With Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee starting in the backcourt for Boston, those two guys play the role of “Shutdown Cornerbacks” If you will. They may not bring a whole lot to the table offensively but defensively, the Celtics starting back-court is as good as any in the NBA.

– Force turnovers. The Celtics are great at forcing opponents into turnovers, in fact they’re tied 4th best in the league in that category.

The X-Factor

– Bench play. According to hoopsstats.com, the Suns bench is ranked 14th in scoring this season however the Celtics bench isn’t too far behind ranking at 16th.

Match-up of the night!

– P.J Tucker vs. Paul Pierce. Tucker has slowly emerged as one of the top perimeter defenders in the league this season despite the fact that the lack of recognition he’s been getting. (Check out his D on King James).

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Tags: Boston Celtics NBA Phoenix Suns

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