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KG-Less Celtics Face Amare-Less Suns

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Boston Celtics (44-12) at Phoenix Suns (30-23)
Sunday, February 22
2:30 PM ET
Game #57, Road Game #29
TV: ABC
US Airways Center

Game Thread l Chat

The KG-less Celtics roll into Phoenix to take on the Amare-less Suns. With each team missing a key big man, other players on both sides must step up. The Suns are on a roll and have won their first three games under new coach Alvin Gentry. They are averaging 140 points per game since Gentry took over the helm but are also allowing 112 points per game. It should be a good game as the Phoenix run and gun offense meets the Celtics' team defense.

Phoenix has won 5 of the last 7 meetings between these two teams with the Celtics winning the last 2 games between them. They split the series last season 1-1 with each team winning on their home court. This season the Celtics are 1-0 against the Suns after a 109-87 win in Boston in January. In that game, Perk was out and Scal started at center. The Celtics led by as many as 35 points in the 3rd period and the starters sat out the 4th quarter. Rondo out played Steve Nash and was the game's high scorer with 23 points.

These two teams will frever be linked by game 5 of the 1976 Finals. Boston won that classic game 128-128 in triple overtime after Garfield Heard hit the "Shot Heard around the World" to send the game into the third OT.

Phoenix is 15-10 at home while Boston is 20-8 on the road. Phoenix is 12-10 vs Eastern Conference foes and the Celtics are 14-8 vs the West. The Suns have already proved they can win without Amare, and not it is the Celtics' turn to prove they can win without KG.

Probable Starting Matchups

Point Guard
vs
Rajon Rondo vs Steve Nash

Shooting Guard
vs
Ray Allen vs Jason Richardson

Small Forward
vs
Paul Pierce vs Grant Hill

Power Forward
Brian Scalabrine vs
Brian Scalabrine vs Louis Admunson


Center
vs
Kendrick Perkins vs Shaquille O'Neal

Injuries
Boston Celtics Tony Allen (thumb) out
Kevin Garnett (knee) out

Phoenix Suns Amare Stoudamire (retina) out


Key Matchups
vs
Rajon Rondo vs Steve Nash
In the Celtics' last 4 games he has faced some of the top PG's in the league in Tony Parker, Chris Paul, Jason Kidd and Deron Williams. It doesn't get any easier for him in this game as he goes up against 2 time MVP Steve Nash.

vs
Kendrick Perkins vs Shaquille O'Neal
In the first matchup between these two teams, Perk was out with the shoulder injury and Scal drew the assignment of starting against Shaq. Perk is healthy now and will get his wish to go against the Big Cactus. This will be a battle inside between two very physical centers.

Honorable Mention
Ray Allen vs Jason Richardson
This will be a battle of the shooters. Both players are capable of putting up points in a hurry. Richardson may give Ray problems on defense with his quickness and Ray can give Richardson problems if he is hitting his shots.

Connections
Eddie House played for Phoenix in the 2005-2006 season
Shaq and Big Baby are former LSU Tigers
Grant Hill played for Doc in Orlando from 2000 to 2004

Keys to the Game
Limit Turnovers
Crash the Boards
Focus for 48 minutes (no matter what the refs do)
Play Team Defense
Move the Ball and Find the Open Man

X-Factor
Focus
The Celtics have to regain their focus. They will probably be faced with bad calls and no calls again, but they can't let that rattle them or take them out of their game. Players will have to step up to make up for the loss of KG, especially on defense and that will take individual focus. . In the Jazz game, the Celtics went up by 11 points twice but seemed to lose focus when calls were going against them and let the Jazz come back. The must keep their focus and not let themselves get rattled.