Boston: 107.1 points/100 possessions (14th)
Phoenix: 110.1 points/100 possessions (7th)
Boston: 99.9 points allowed/100 possessions (1st)
Phoenix: 109.9 points allowed/100 possessions (24th)
Probable Phoenix Starters: Steve Nash (PG) Vince Carter (SG) Grant Hill (SF) Channing Frye (PF) Robin Lopez (C)
View From The Opposing Bench: Valley of the Suns
Thumbnail: The Celtics get the Suns tonight in what will almost assuredly be a return to unpleasantness. The Suns cannot be happy with the Celtics or their polarizing power forward, Kevin Garnett. In case you’ve forgotten, which I know you haven’t, the last time these two teams met the Cs got burned badly and Channing Frye had to take an extra long ice bath. I won’t get into the particulars but any one referring to the place where KG hit Frye as the “mid-section” without hilarious italics, quotation marks, or cartoon spring noises should watch this and reevalute (I’m talking to you Boston Herald).
Aside from this reality, the Celtics are looking at a very winnable game tonight. Despite the Suns being a recent bogeyman for the Cs, the Phoenicians are coming off two buzzer beater wins against the Nets and the Pacers. The person responsible for that buzzer beating? Channing Frye. I’m pretty sure he might think twice before he pulls up for a potential game winning jump shot? I mean, I’m 90% sure neither Josh McRoberts or Kris Humphries has ever given Frye as hard a shot contest as KG.
WHAT THE SUNS DO WELL:
Exactly what you think they do well.
Which is to say push the pace, score the ball, shoot the ball from two-point range, and shoot the ball from three-point range. If there was a four-point range or a nine-point-range, they would probably shoot the ball well from there, too.
In fact, except for the brief Terry Porter-coached flirtation with a modified offense in 2008-09, the Suns have played the game the same way on the offensive end since the D’Antoni-Nash marriage began in 2004-05.
WHAT THE SUNS DO POORLY:
Notice you did not see “defense” under what the Suns do well. Alvin Gentry’s squad is in the bottom third in most of the defensive categories. Here’s a particular trick of interest. The Suns allow the third fewest shots at the rim in the NBA but the third highest percentage of shots made at the rim. The key is not to fall into the jumpshooting trap. Which they will happily let you do. Much like the Celtics.
PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY:
Nash, of course. And whoever he might find for open shots if the Celtics don’t rotate effectively against the Suns offense.
Also Carter. Because it’s not a playoff game.
PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY:
Vince Carter jokes aside, the Suns’ army of wings is hardly a frightening crew. If you can limit their open looks, they can be neutralized on the offensive end.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM BOSTON TONIGHT:
Like some freakishly tall, 1/12 Canadian version of a femme fatale, the Suns will attempt to seduce the Celtics into playing their kind of basketball. The Celtics will try to resist the Suns’ sultry charms, so they don’t end up like Fred MacMurray.
What makes this one particularly interesting is that the Celtics – with Jeff Green in the fold – might actually be interested in going down the Suns’ road, at least for short spurts. Ultimately though, Boston will likely attempt to slow the game down, work the half-court and force the Suns into long/contested jumpshots.
Boston 107 Phoenix 101
Note: *Poorly executed sections of this preview may have been written by Ryan. So blame him.*