The Celtics will get their star point guard Rajon Rondo back in the line-up tonight against the Suns after he was suspended for Boston’s last game against the Knicks for making contact with a referee in a game against the Atlanta Hawks on January 5th. The Celtics were able to secure a win without Rondo against the Knicks on Tuesday winning at Madison Square Garden 102-96.
“The best thing is that we got the win,” Rondo told the team’s official website. “It’s our first time we’ve gotten three wins in a row (actually the second) so we’ve got to build on that.”
The Celtics are currently on a 3-game winning streak and ironically enough, the Suns are on a 3-game losing streak. The Celtics have been good at home this season owning a 10-6 home record however the 6 losses proves that they are definitely beatable.
Heading into tonight’s game, the Celtics are the favorite by a 8.5 point margin according to ESPN.com. The Celtics has reserve forward Chris Wilcox who’s listed as out and Rajon Rondo listed as day-to-day, however Rondo is expected to play. The Suns are currently injury free.
Keys to the game: Suns
- Get the ball inside! The Celtics are a relatively small team with Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett as their 4 & 5 which means minimal shot-blocking; great news considering what took place in Milwaukee last night. Garnett may still be a quality defensive player but he’s not what he was a few seasons ago. No question the Suns can find some offensive success by attacking the rim; Boston ranks 28th in the league in block shots per game.
- Watch Rondo because he’s always watching you. Rondo is an absolute ball hawk. The turnovers has been killing the Suns all season long and Rondo may look exploit that tonight as he loves playing the passing lanes.
- Jump over the road blocks! Road losses have plagued the Suns all season. The Suns are 2-15 on the road which is the 2nd worst mark in the NBA. The Suns seem to have an awful hard time getting wins away from Phoenix and are currently losers of 10 consecutive games on the road, which is the longest road losing streak the Suns have had since 1985.
Keys to the game: Celtics
- Make some 3s! The Celtics, whether they admit or not, miss Ray Allen; they miss him bad! The Celtics were never a good 3-point shooting team even with Ray Allen but at least they were respectable, now they’re just down right awful. The Celtics are 28th in the league this season in 3-pointers made per game. The Suns are the worst 3-point defending team in the league so perhaps the Celtics can find some success there offensively like the Bucks did last night.
- Force turnovers. The Celtics are great at forcing opponents into turnovers, in fact they’re 4th best in the league in that category. The Celtics offensively are best above average at best this season so any easy fast-break points they can get you can bet damn well they’re taking it. Boston should have no problem forcing TOs against the Suns tonight as it seems lately the Suns are just doing that on their own.
- Bench play. Both teams could benefit from better bench play; in fact they need it. The Suns have gotten great play from their bench all season long but in the last 3 games the Suns bench has been more of a liability than a weapon. The Celtics bench on the other hand are ranked 20th in terms of bench scoring in the NBA despite having some quality players. Bench play will be crucial tonight for the Suns considering they’re playing their 2nd game of their back-to-back; the Suns bench are ranked 14th in scoring this season compared to 5th last season.
Match-up of the night!
- I’m looking at Kevin Garnett vs. Marcin Gortat. Garnett, who’s been a power forward pretty much throughout his entire career but due to the lack of size on the Celtics roster, Garnett has been forced to play the center position. Gortat has been playing terrific lately after his early season slumps but will have his hands full going up against the veteran KG; hopefully Gortat won’t have to wait for KG in the Celtics locker room after the game like Carmelo Anthony did the other night……