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Celtics block out the Suns with a 116-111 victory

A balanced team effort pushed the Celtics past the Suns

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

After watching Devin Booker get comfortable in the first half and at the beginning of the second, it looked like the Celtics were in for another barrage of points from the Suns guard after his 71-point game in the TD Garden last season. Booker “only” scored 38 points, but the result was the same as last year as the Celtics pulled away for good late in the fourth quarter to beat the Suns 116-111.

The offense looks so much better when Jayson Tatum is assertive on that end, and that’s exactly what happened after the tip. Kyrie Irving got off to a hot start as well, but it was Jaylen Brown who really took matters into his own hand to lead the team early on. He posted 10 points in just the opening quarter, spending time taking Booker’s shots while retaliating with shots of his own. Brown finished with 17 points on 50% shooting.

Known Celtics punisher Greg Monroe was suited up for his new team this afternoon, and he lived up to his reputation by agitating Boston’s second unit to the tune of 6 points, 8 rebounds, and pesky toughness in the paint. Although he didn’t shoot particularly well (2-for-6), his paint presence was enough for Brad Stevens to switch the starting lineup for the third quarter. Daniel Theis, coming off a strong second quarter, began the second half so that Aron Baynes would remain matched up with Monroe off the bench.

In a similar strategy, after watching Devin Booker toast Brown in the first half, Stevens went to Marcus Smart primarily to try to slow down Booker in the second half. On top of his usual defensive presence, Smart contributed 13 points and 7 assists, including a few alley-oops to Al Horford:

And another one:

One interesting aspect of this game to watch was the battle between Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum, the two high-profile rookies for each team. Jackson scored 7 points to go with 1 rebound while Tatum put up 15 points and 6 rebounds and the win. It’s safe to say that Tatum won this first matchup.

Al Horford had a typical Al Horford game, meaning that his contributions weren’t loud, but quietly huge. Horford posted 14 points, 5 rebounds and 11 assists. After setting the league on fire for the last few games, Irving had a “quiet” 19 points on an efficient 57% shooting. Additionally, Marcus Morris gave the team a big boost against his former employer, scoring 17 points to go with 8 rebounds.

The Celtics began to put the Suns away late in the third after a short burst left them up 89-79 to end the period, but they let Phoenix back into the game to start the final quarter. Phoenix hung around all game, but Boston finally put them down behind some clutch play by their closer, Kyrie Irving.

The Celtics are the first team to reach 20 wins this season, and they look to extend their lead over the rest of the league on Monday in a rematch at home against the Milwaukee Bucks.