Preview: Phoenix At Boston
When: 7:30 PM ET, Friday, January 15, 2016
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
The Boston Celtics will try to build off a dominating stretch run their last time out when they host the reeling Phoenix Suns on Friday. Headed toward what would have been a fifth straight loss, the Celtics closed out the Indiana Pacers with a 14-2 run to steal a 103-94 win on Wednesday at home, rediscovering their defensive intensity just in the time.
“Get stops. Hunker down and get stops,” forward Jae Crowder – who tied a career high with 25 points – told reporters. “We got a couple of steals in a row. I think that’s what it was. We didn’t do anything differently on offense. We just hunkered down and got stops.” Crowder had one of his team’s three steals in the final two minutes – each leading to dunks on the other end – and Isaiah Thomas scored 28 points as Boston snapped a three-game slide at home. The Suns dropped the opener of a three-game road trip at Indiana on Tuesday, their 11th loss in 12 games overall. Eleven opponents have reached the 100-point mark during the swoon and Phoenix is ranked 29th in the NBA in scoring defense (106.4).
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona (Phoenix), CSN New England (Boston)
ABOUT THE SUNS (13-27): Phoenix has dropped eight consecutive road games but has been victorious in its last two trips to Boston. Among the few positives coming into this one is the improved play of reserve forward Mirza Teletovic, who has scored in double figures in a career-high six straight games and is 13-of-26 from long range over a three-game stretch. Phoenix hopes to have guard Brandon Knight (illness) back from a one-game layoff while center Alex Len (hand) will miss the entirety of the road trip.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (20-19): Thomas, a former Sun who had two points on 1-of-8 shooting for Phoenix in its last visit to Boston, is making a bid for his first All-Star appearance. The 26-year-old is averaging 32.3 points over the past three contests while shooting 51.7 percent and dishing out 19 assists. Crowder, whose career scoring average is seven points per game, is averaging 18.6 in seven games this month.
1. Suns SG Devin Booker has also scored in double figures for six straight games after reaching the 10-point mark just six times in his previous 28 affairs.
2. Boston entered Thursday ranked fourth in field-goal percentage defense (42.9), while Phoenix was last (47.6).
3. Suns SF P.J. Tucker is 10-of-35 from the floor since going 10-of-14 at Oklahoma City on New Year’s Eve.
PREDICTION: Celtics 109, Suns 99