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Undefeated Celtics Aim for 7-0 Against the Fast-Paced Phoenix Suns

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Friday, November 6, 2009
7:30pm
TV: Comcast SportsNet; Radio: 850 AM WEEI
Venue: TD Garden
The Boston Celtics aim to stay perfect when the Phoenix Suns visit the TD Garden tonight at 7:30pm.
The Suns enter Boston fresh off their first loss of the season, as they fell 122-100 to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. The Celtics barely managed to stay perfect on Wednesday night, as the Minnesota Timberwolves pushed them to the brink, before ultimately falling 92-90.
This game presents a formidable test for the Celtics' defense, which is ranked first in the NBA in points allowed at 81.5 per game. The Suns will have something to say about that number, as they've scored at least 100 points in each of their first five games. Steve Nash is currently leading the NBA in assists with 10.8 per game and is helping drive a still high-powered Phoenix offense that's averaging 15.2 fast break points per game. The Suns have six players that are currently averaging at least 12 points per game.
The top two assist leaders in the NBA square off in this one as Nash will go up against Rajon Rondo, whose 9.7 assist per game average is good for second in the league. Rondo scored a career-high 32 points to go along with 10 assists and six rebounds against Nash and the Suns last season on February 22.

Projected Starters:

Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Suns: Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Amare Stoudemire, Channing Frye

Health Check: For the Celtics, guard Tony Allen (ankle), forward Bill Walker (knee) and forward Glen Davis (thumb) are all out.

For the Suns, center Robin Lopez (foot) is out and guard Leandro Barbosa (wristed) is listed as day-to-day.

Keep it in Mind: The Suns have not won in Boston since the 2006-2007 campaign.

Who's Hot: For the Celtics, Rajon Rondo shot 8-16 en route to 18 points against Minnesota on Wednesday.

For the Suns, Amare Stoudemire posted 25 points against the Magic on 10-21 shooting.

Who's Not: For the Celtics, Ray Allen was just 1 for 7 from three-point nation against the Timberwolves.

For the Suns, both Jason Richardson and Grant Hill were held scoreless against the Magic.

Key Matchup: Rajon Rondo vs. Steve Nash

Honorable Mention: Kevin Garnett vs. Amare Stoudemire

Skinny: The Celtics will have to make a concerted effort to not get caught up in Phoenix's run-and-gun style of play and it starts with Rajon Rondo at the top. If he can slow Steve Nash and force the Suns into the half court, Boston's defense should be able to take over from there.

The Celtics managed to employ a similar strategy against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday and it resulted in a 31-point victory. While Phoenix arguably has more talent than Philadelphia, Boston has seen an uptempo offense before and did an admirable job of forcing its own pace on the game. A similar strategy will be needed against the Suns tonight.

Watch the battle of the big men, as both Channing Frye and Amare Stoudemire are capable of pulling Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett out of the paint, thus freeing up the lane for slashers like Jason Richardson. Also, see if Paul Pierce can exploit his matchup with Grant Hill, who's actually leading the Suns in rebounding with 8.8 per game.