After a dominant win against the Utah Jazz, the Boston Celtics loom next this weekend for the Phoenix Suns in the road to the regular season resumption.
What a win for the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.
The Suns handily dispatched the Jazz, the people’s champion Deandre Ayton hit a three-pointer (his first in any NBA capacity) and the night was fun! Hoops are back!
But the games go on, and next for the Suns is the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics (43-21) are third in the NBA eastern conference behind the Bucks and Raptors and are in the top 10 in both offensive (5th) and defensive (4th) rating. Just one season after an overhaul that saw the departures of Al Horford, Kyrie Irving, and Terry Rozier, the Celtics have done a great job in recovering.
The Boston Celtics are one of the best in the NBA, and even in a scrimmage, this should be a fun matchup.
Some of that can be attributed to the newcomers, the main one being guard Kemba Walker. The longtime Hornets mainstay came over in free agency and although he has been hampered some by injury, he 21 points, four rebounds and four assists a contest on 37% three-point shooting (on a whopping eight attempts a night!) While we aren’t sure of the status of Ricky Rubio yet, one can imagine that if Walker plays that Ty Jerome and Cameron Payne will have their hands full.
Gordon Hayward has had a strong year, just one season removed after really finding his footing from his horrific injury just two seasons prior. His 17 points, six rebounds, and four assists a game are more in line with his averages from his prime than the 11-4-3 he put up in the 2018-2019 season.
Tatum has absolutely exploded this season, averaging 23.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. Before the season reached stoppage he was a supernova, with a February that saw him average 30 points a game on just under 50% shooting from both two-point range AND three-point range, along with a shade under eight rebounds and four assists. It will be interesting to see what Mikal Bridges and the rest of the Phoenix Suns wings will do to attempt to keep him in check as he looks to round back into form for the postseason stretch.
Speaking of wings, Jaylen Brown has been electric and a perfect “wingman” (see what I did there?) with 20 points, six rebounds, and three and a half assists a game. You also can’t overlook the contributions of defensive dynamo Marcus Smart (13-4-4) and steady (if foul prone) big man Daniel Theis. (nine points and six rebounds a game; 32% from three)
The bench is the Celtics weakness, and the Suns will have the edge there, especially coming off of strong bench play in their win over Utah. Devin Booker will have a fun game against Boston (he usually does) but Deandre Ayton should feast on Boston’s undersized, thin, and defensively challenged front line. Mikal Bridges’ defensive battle vs Tatum/Brown will also be interesting.
In short Suns fans, this should be a fun one. The Phoenix Suns came out with the requisite energy of a team looking to claw into the postseason once the season resumes, and they will look to do so again. Boston is one of the best in the east and even in a scrimmage, the matchup is a tantalizing one. This should be a fun one y’all.