at Boston Celtics (28-26) at Phoenix Suns (18-37)
Friday, February 22
9:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #55, Road Game #26
TV: CSNNE, FSA, NBA-LP 765(BOS)/766(PHX)
Radio: WEEI, KTAR
US Airways Center Probable Starting Lineup PG:
Kevin Garnett SF:
Brandon Bass Celtics Reserves
Jared Sullinger (back) out
Rajon Rondo (knee) out Probable Starting Lineup PG:
PJ Tucker C:
Marcin Gortat SF:
Jared Dudley PF:
Luis Scola Suns Reserves
Jermaine O'Neal Injuries
Channing Frye (heart) out Team Connections
Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat were teammates in Orlando during the 2009-10 season
Marcin Gortat and Courtney Lee were teammates in Orlando during the 2008-09 season
Fab Melo and Wesley Johnson attended Syracuse
Courtney Lee, Luis Scola and Goran Dragic were teammates in Houston from 2010-12
Paul Pierce and Markieff and Marcus Morris attended Kansas
Jason Terry and Channing Frye both attended Arizona
Jermaine Oï¿½Neal played for the Celtics from 2010-12Game Notes
The Celtics move on to Phoenix, still looking for their first win on this 5 game road trip. This is the second and final meeting between these two teams. The Celtics won 88-71 in Boston, but that was before injuries created havoc with their roster.
The Suns are better at home than they are on the road, but they are still under .500 at home with a 12-13 record. The Celtics have struggled on the road and are just 8-17 away from the Garden. The Celtics are 7-10 in their last 10 games are are looking to avoid a 3 game losing streak on the trip. The Suns are 3-7 in their last 10 games looking to avoid their second straight loss.
With the trading deadline in the rear mirror, this core group has another opportunity to win another ring. They need to regroup and pull together and try to make it happen. The push for Banner 18 begins anew with this game. Key Matchups
Brandon Bass vs Luis Scola
Scola is averaging 12.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists this season. In the first meeting between these two teams, Scola was the Suns high scorer with 16 points. He is capable of putting up big numbers and Bass must stick with him on defense to prevent him from having another big game. It would also help if Bass can develop more consistency and get back to the way he played last season.
Kevin Garnett vs Marcin Gortat
Gortat is averaging 11.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists this season. In the first meeting between these two teams Gortat exceeded his season averages with 12 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 blocks. With the Celtics being even more short handed up front, this matchup becomes even more key. It will be up to KG to keep him out of the paint. Honorable Mention
In the first meeting between these two teams, the Celtics' starters scored a total of 40 points while the bench pitched in 47. Since then, the Celtics bench has been depleted. Jared Sullinger came up big in that game with 16 rebounds and he will be very much missed. Also no Barbosa, and Lee off the bench this time. Terrence Williams has just a few minutes playing time with the team. Crawford may or may not be able to play. Only Chris Wilcox is left to back up both KG and Bass. The remaining bench players must step up for the Celtics to win this one. Keys to the GameDefense
- This is the key to every win this season and to a championship as well. We have seen the Celtics defense that we have come to know and love in the recent win streak. But we have also seen games where the defense just isn't there as in the Lakers game. Playing defense like that takes energy and teamwork and hopefully the Celtics will continue to play with that type of intensity on the defensive end. Ball Movement
- The Celtics need to move the ball and find the open man in order to stretch the Suns weak defenses. They also need to try to get the ball into the paint and not just settle for jumpers. If they get the ball into the post they will be able to score, draw the foul or kick out for an open jumper. When the ball moves, the Celtics are much harder to guard.
Crash the Boards
- The Celtics must make an effort to grab rebounds, especially on the offensive end. By grabbing offensive rebounds it will prevent the Suns from getting out on the break. Rebounding is mostly desire and effort and the team that wants it most will win the rebounding battle. With the lack of size on the team, every Celtic must make an extra effort to grab rebounds. X-Factors
Road, Players, Officials
1. The Celtics have struggled on the road this season. They are just 8-17 away from the Garden. They have also lost the first two games on the trip and hopefully can get back on track and get a win in this one.
2. The Celtics are short handed. They have just Chris Wilcox left to back up both KG and Bass. They have 2 new players who are limited in their knowledge of the system.
3. The first two games on this road trip resulted in a big free throw disparity. The Nuggets shot 20 more free throws than the Celtics. The Lakers shot 11 more free throws than the Celtics but at one point it was 22 for the Lakers to 4 for the Celtics. Hopefully the Celtics can get a fair shake from the officials in this one.