NBA Game Preview - Suns v Celtics

 
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123
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Phoenix 26 34 27 36 123
Boston 20 31 25 43 119
119
4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)01:0019:00 ET6:00 PM CT22:00 , January 18, 2020
TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts  Attendance: 19,156

Celtics seeking turnaround vs. Suns

According to STATS
According to STATS

Phoenix Suns at Boston Celtics

  1. The Celtics won in Phoenix on November 18, 99-85 -- a season low in points scored for the Suns. Boston has won five of the last six meetings overall, with the loss coming the last time they hosted the Suns (111-103 on December 19, 2018).
  2. Boston never held the lead in Thursday's 128-123 loss at Milwaukee. It's the fourth time in the Celtics' last 11 games that they never had a lead, after having just one such game in their first 29 played this season.
  3. The Suns' 121-98 win at New York on Thursday was their first 20-point road win since a 124-97 victory in Dallas on April 10, 2018. Over their last five road games, the Suns are averaging 114.4 points on 49.2 percent shooting, going 3-2.
  4. Devin Booker famously scored a career-high 70 points in a 130-120 loss in Boston on March 24, 2017, when he was 20 years old. It stands as a franchise record, as well as the most points ever scored by a Celtics opponent, and the most ever scored by a player under 23 years old.
  5. Deandre Ayton had 26 points and a career-high 21 rebounds against the Knicks on Thursday. He's the first Suns player with a 20-20 game since Amar'e Stoudemire on December 6, 2008 versus Utah; the last such game by a Sun on the road was by Charles Barkley on March 13, 1994 at Orlando.
  6. Kemba Walker scored 40 points in a losing effort against Milwaukee on Thursday, his 18th career 40-point game (and second with Boston). His teams are 5-13 all-time in those games, with losses in six straight.

The Boston Celtics have been in a tailspin of late, but you couldn't tell it from the fourth quarter of their latest loss.

Trailing 106-87 to the NBA-best Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, the Celtics roared back to get within four points with 38 seconds left before ultimately falling 128-123. The defeat was Boston's fifth in seven games, but coach Brad Stevens kept focused on what he saw in those final 12 minutes.

"That was more Celtics basketball than we've seen in a while," Stevens said.

Boston will look to carry that into its matchup against the visiting Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. The meeting will finish the season series between the teams. The Celtics won the first meeting 99-85 at Phoenix in November.

Boston has won eight of its last 10 against the Suns, who enter having won three of their last four games.

The Celtics might be tempted to overlook the Suns with a matchup against the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, but the memory of a blowout loss at home to the struggling, shorthanded Detroit Pistons a day before their game against the Bucks remains fresh.

The game in Milwaukee appeared headed in a similar direction before the fourth-quarter push, keyed by Kemba Walker, who scored nine points down the stretch to push his total for the game to 40 to go along with a season-high 11 rebounds.

"(He was the) only reason we had a chance," Stevens said. "He just willed himself to baskets."

Walker missed time with the flu earlier this month and had scored more than 20 points in just one of five games before Thursday. His return to form comes at a key time for the Celtics, as Jaylen Brown is questionable with a right thumb sprain that required further testing Friday.

Though the Suns are far from a threat in the West, they showed Thursday just how dangerous they can be in a 121-98 rout of the New York Knicks. Devin Booker led the way with 29 points. Deandre Ayton stole the show with a 26-point, 21-rebound double-double.

"Every game, he's taking tremendous strides," Booker said of Ayton, who missed time in his second season after a failed drug test. "I've been saying he's a couple of months behind us, and he's catching up quick. The way he defends, the way he runs the floor, how athletic he is. You can't teach those things. He's a freak of nature."

Ricky Rubio added 25 points and 13 assists as Phoenix enjoyed one of its most complete efforts of the season.

"We are only out there for one another," Ayton said. "Without team success, you are not going to reach your individual accolades. That is big on this team, and we feed off each other."

The Suns played Thursday without Kelly Oubre Jr. (concussion protocol) and he is questionable for Saturday's game. Aron Baynes will return to Boston with Phoenix on Saturday after playing the last two seasons with the Celtics.

-Field Level Media

Updated January 17, 2020

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