Boston Celtics (19-35) at Phoenix Suns (30-21)
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
9:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #55, Road Game #27
TV: CSNNE, FSAZ, NBA-LP 760(DTV)/757(Xfinity)
Radio: WBZ, AZ Sports 98.7
US Airways Center
Referees: Rodney Mott, Kane Fitzgerald, James Williams
Game Thread l Chat
The Celtics begin their west coast swing with a stop in Phoenix to take on the surprising Suns. Both teams have rumors swirling going into the trading deadline and that may affect the play of some of the players on both sides.
The Suns are the 6th seed in a tough Western Conference, 1/2 game ahead of Dallas and Golden State, who are tied for 7th. . Rumors are floating that they are looking to pick up the pieces that may put them over the top as far as competing in the playoffs. The Celtics are sitting 12th in the East but are also just 4 games out of the final spot in the playoffs. The Celtics are in almost every trade rumor that is out there, as both buyers and sellers at the deadline.
The Celtics should be rested and ready to get back to playing again. Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk participated in the Rising Stars game but still had plenty of rest over the break. The Suns on the other hand are playing in the second of back to back games, having played in Denver on Tuesday night. The Suns are 6-6 on the second night of back to back games.
The Celtics will see some familiar faces on the Suns. Former Celtic Gerald Green is the starting 2 guard for the Suns and Dionte Christmas and Leandro Barbosa come off the bench for them.
Avery Bradley and Vitor Faverani didn't make the trip and so I expect Gerald Wallace to get the start at the shooting guard once again. With the trading deadline on Thursday and rumors swirling around just about every player on the team, this may be the last time we see some of these players in green.
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Gerald Wallace
C: Jared Sullinger
SF: Jeff Green
PF: Brandon Bass
Keith Bogans (personal) out
Vitor Faverani (knee) out
Avery Bradley (ankle) out
PG: Goran Dragic
SG: Gerald Green
C: Miles Plumlee
SF: PJ Tucker
PF: Channing Frye
Eric Bledsoe (knee) out
Emeka Okafor (neck) out
Rajon Rondo vs Goran Dragic
Dragic has been playing very well for the Suns. He is averaging 20.3 points, 6.2 assists and 1.42 steals. This will be a fun matchup to watch.
Gerald Wallace vs Gerald Green
Former Celtic Gerald Green has put up some big dunks this season and is playing well enough to start for the Suns. He is averaging 14.3 points and 3.2 rebounds this season. Players always give a little extra to beat the teams that traded them in the past and so expect a big game from Gerald in this one.
Keys to the Game
Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics tend to have periods in the game where they can't make snots, let up on defense and turn the ball over. They have to find a way to be more consistent and play strong for all 48 minutes.
Rebound - Much of rebounding is effort and desire. The Celtics need to do both if they hope to win on the road. The Suns are 1st in the league with 18.5 fast break points per game. The Celtics will need to crash the boards to prevent second chance and fast break points from the Suns.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be aggressive in going after loose balls, taking the ball to the hoop and playing in your face defense. When they get lazy and allow teams to beat them to loose balls and rebounds and when they settle for jumpers and don't go to the basket, they are very beatable. They have to be the more aggressive team from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
Focus - It's easy for teams to lose focus on the road and so the Celtics have to find a way to keep their focus and ignore the hostile crowd and just play hard from start to finish.
Defend the Perimeter - The Suns are first in the league with 9.4 3-point makes per game. The Celtics must defend them beyond the arc to prevent them from hitting those long distance bombs.
Rust vs Rest
The Celtics will be well rested coming into this game, but will that rest lead to rust at the start of the game? Also will the trade deadline rumors have an effect on the play of any of the players on both sides?