The Phoenix Suns’ loss to Celtics proves how much they need Rubio

Without Ricky Rubio, the Phoenix Suns are who everyone thought they were, which is not very good. On the bright side, with him they’re really good.

Ricky Rubio was a game time decision for the Phoenix Suns against the Boston Celtics due to back soreness suffered after a rough night’s sleep.

We’ve all been there. You wake up some days and the back says, “Nope, not today,” and you limp through the day, bending over and touching your toes or twisting back and forth trying to get loose. When that doesn’t work, you’re faced with the decision to go for that run or swim or play pick-up hoops and risk making it worse tomorrow, or taking it easy and rest, trying to get right for the next day.

The Suns staff decided it would be better for Rubio sit the game out and get right. Unfortunately, that meant the Suns offense would go all wrong.

The Celtics were coming into the game after losing only their second game of the year to a resurgent Kings team and after losing Gordon “Hard Luck” Hayward for a couple months to a broken hand a few days earlier.

Before the Kings game, the Celtics had won ten in a row and were one unlucky bounce away from a Marcus Smart game winning floater to winning 11.

Now the C’s were looking angry—or, as angry as millionaire millennials who play a schoolyard game for a living can look—and they were looking to take it out on someone.

The Phoenix Suns were that someone.

It is hard to know what to say about a game like this. The Suns came into the game after posting 30 plus team assists over the last three games. The C’s held them to only 22. But then they only had 22 themselves.

Baynes had a rough night, scoring only 9 points, shooting only 44% from the field while hitting only 1-of-5 from the arc. It seems other people have figured out he is deadly when left alone from outside.

Booker was the high man, scoring only 20 points, and while he kept up his 50-50-90 average, the Suns on the whole only made 10 three-pointers and needed 36 attempts to get them. That’s 27% overall. That’s not going to cut it.

Having Rubio would have changed this. The ball moves more freely with him at point and he understands how to get his teammates open looks with drive and kicks, moving the ball ahead, and seeing the play before it develops rather than reacting to the development of the play.

Rubio is also a more willing shooter then Carter is. For the season he’s shooting over 37% from distance, and even though he’s only shooting 40% from the field, Rubio knows to keep taking those shots, creating gravity, which frees up teammates like Baynes or Saric or Kaminsky for wide open threes. It’s not that Carter had a bad game, it’s that Carter never had any effect on it.

The strange thing is, the Celtics didn’t do much better, hitting only 12 threes on 41 attempts. In fact, if you just look at the Boston stat line you’d probably think the Suns had this one in the bag. They had only 22 assists themselves, shooting only 41% from the field and just 29% from deep. But they caused more turnovers and grabbed more rebounds and in a sloppy game like this, that made all the difference.

That kind of scrappy play, has been one of the keys to the Suns’ early success. Monty Williams had to have been frustrated watching the script being flipped on them ball security and hustle  categories.

So, the Suns lost a stinker to an embattled Boston Celtic’s team, largely due to Rubio waking up on the wrong side of the bed. You hope going into these games to see both teams at full strength so you can better gauge how two of the better teams of the young season match up.

Next: Monty Williams video-bomb embodies this Suns team

Next up for the Suns are the prior mentioned resurgent Kings, a team the Suns pummeled opening night and the team that upset the Celtics. A classic revenge game.

The Suns hope Rubio had a better night sleep last night.

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