Phoenix Suns vs Boston Celtics: Predictions and Odds

The Phoenix Suns

Head Coach: Igor Kokoškov {All-Time 7-24; PHO} The Phoenix Suns are currently ranked last in the Western Conference with a record of 7-24. The closest team to them in the West are the 14th place Utah Jazz who have seven more games in the win column over them. The Phoenix Suns most recently picked up a win against another lowly NBA team in the New York Knicks, who own their own paltry record of 9-23. While the Knicks are a mess of their own, the Phoenix Suns did well to take advantage as none of T.J. Warren, Devin Booker, or Deandre Ayton could be stopped. The Phoenix Suns will not receive a break however as they face off against last years Eastern Conference finalists the Boston Celtics. The Celtics are some of the NBA’s best and while they got off to a tough start, the Celtics seem to be getting on track which is bad news for the Suns.

The Boston Celtics

Head Coach: Brad Stevens {All-Time 239-200; BOS} After a difficult start to the season, the Boston Celtics seem to have found their groove after some lineup changes. After going 10-10 in their first 20 matches, the Boston Celtics lost for the first time since November 26th in a backbreaker to the Pistons and now sit fifth in the East at 18-11. Against the Detroit Pistons, the Boston Celtics struggled to defend the size and mobility of the Pistons front court allowing the Pistons to shoot 48% from the field. Compounded on their inability to defend, no Celtic player could compete with Drummond on the glass as he totalled 20 rebounds on the evening. The Boston Celtics fully expect to bounce back against the Phoenix Suns. However, the Celtics weakness against the Pistons may rear its ugly head again as young Suns centre Deandre Ayton is surely going to try to ply his trade inside.

What’s At Stake?

In what is a rarely contested NBA matchup, the Boston Celtics lead the all-time series against the Phoenix Suns 71-55. These teams have met in the playoffs for only one series in the past, which the Celtics won 4-2. Should the Boston Celtics win this match, they would be only 2.5 games behind the first place Toronto Raptors and likely take the fourth spot in the East from the Sixers. If they lose, they would still be comfortably ahead of the Detroit Pistons in sixth. If the Phoenix Suns win this match the young team would gain little in the standings, improving to 8-24 yet they would still be six matches behind 14th place.

Questions to answer

What do the Phoenix Suns have going for them? Can the Celtics make their long-range shots? We are going to compare the two teams in an attempt to see who has the advantage between the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns are 11th in Steals

Being the most bottom-feeding team in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns honestly don’t have much going for them in any category. They have great young assets in Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, but the talent drop-off is so severe after them and T.J. Warren that it is a wonder what the Suns can rely on. If anything, the Suns are a team that get in the passing lanes. At 11th in the NBA with 8.4 steals per game, the Phoenix Suns are certainly an energetic team whether or not that actually translates to solid defence. Unfortunately for the Suns, the Boston Celtics are ranked fifth in the NBA in turnovers at 13.6 per game. The Boston Celtics take care of the ball and their spacing and passing makes it so that interceptions are hard to come by. Look for the Suns to pressure hard, but be more conservative going for steals.

The Celtics Need to Convert from Range

It is no surprise that the Boston Celtics struggle when they can not convert from long range. With one of the NBA’s slowest paces, 99.1 (22nd of 30), the Boston Celtics need to make every possession count against a young team that can get out and break. Seven players on the Celtics roster are shooting over 36% from range, regardless of attempt rate. Two players under 36%, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, have shown in their career that they can hit valuable shots regardless of current average. The Phoenix Suns will likely get up and crowd the Celtic shooters, forcing them to a crowded paint. If the ball hums and the Celtics get hot, it will be a quick night and win for them. If they’re forced to take it inside, they’ll be met by 7’0 Deandre Ayton at the rim.

Phoenix Suns Roster Notes

G Austin Rivers is currently inactive until he is cleared to play post-trade with the Wizards. He is expected to debut against the Celtics. G-F Kelly Oubre Jr is currently inactive until he is cleared to play post-trade with the Wizards. He is expected to debut against the Celtics.

Boston Celtics Roster Notes

F-C Al Horford (knee) is still listed as day-to-day and is unlikely to play against the Suns. F Guerschon Yabusele (ankle) is being evaluated on a week-to-week basis and has no timetable for return.

Marcus Smart has an Unenviable Task

The addition of Marcus Smart into the Boston Celtics lineup is what spurred them to their recent success. He provides the starting five excellent balance while being a lockdown defender and not demanding too many looks on the offensive end. This season, Marcus Smart is averaging 7.1 points per game, 4.1 assists, and 1.8 steals per game (a career high). With greater role focus, the Boston Celtics have begun to soar and it’s absolutely in part due to Marcus Smart. Against the Suns he’ll have the task of slowing down perimeter ace Devin Booker. While Smart is a skilled defender, Booker has the skills and physical assets – being 6’6, 210 lbs.- to attack Smart like he isn’t even there. Tough night for Smart, look for him to stay tight to Booker to prevent him from receiving the ball .

Devin Booker

The 22 year-old shooting sensation out of Kentucky is being tapped to be the NBA’s next big star. Tall and strong with range from anywhere in the gym, the young swingman can get his shot off against absolutely anyone in the league. While his scoring is down slightly, 23.8 PPG versus 24.9 PPG in 17-18, Booker has locked in on being the teams primary playmaker when the going gets tough. With few point guard options on the Suns, Booker is averaging a career high 6.8 assists per game. In this game against the Celtics, Booker will certainly have to look to facilitate more as the Celtic defence will be keying in on him. Look for Booker to play the two-man game more than usual against Boston as they lack a truly capable front court defender and thus can exploit the Celtics as a scorer and facilitator.

Phoenix Suns at Boston Celtics Predictions and Odds

The odds makers have the Boston Celtics favoured over the Phoenix Suns by 12, with an over/under of 110.