The Boston Celtics had no trouble defeating the Phoenix Suns 113-88 despite being without Kevin Garnett on Friday.
Jeff Green paved the way for the Celtics victory with 31 points. Although he was on the losing end, Goran Dragic had another productive night for Phoenix with 19 points and 10 assists. Prior to this game, Boston has mightily struggled away from home with their 8-17 road record. This Celtics win breaks their back-to-back away losses against the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers.
“I didn’t have a different mindset,” Green explained. “It was the same as me coming off the bench. I just tried to make a statement early and that’s what I did by attacking the rim and getting to the free throw line.”
In the wake of a disappointing season, Marcus Morris’ Phoenix debut alongside his brother, Markieff, was news about which Suns fans could get excited. Coach Doc Rivers’ game-time decision to sit Garnett (rest) put the Morris brothers in prime position to thrive together. Sadly for Suns fans, Marcus Morris did not appear until the fourth quarter when the score was ridiculously out of reach thanks to Green’s explosive effort on the court.
“Jeff was phenomenal,” Rivers said. “We started the game running a set we had never run in our lives. We literally drew it up right before the game. They just had the basketball IQ to keep working and they actually showed us options we didn’t know we had.”
Green’s 13 quick points took charge of the Celtics 28-20 first-quarter lead over the Suns. Boston’s small, swift starting lineup created a number of early problems for the Suns. The Celtics smooth and unselfish passing gave them easy opportunities for high-percentage shots.
“We like to take advantage of mismatches,” Green said. “With the small lineup and their starters, we were able to take advantage.”
Fortunately for the Suns, the Celtics could not sink every open shot. This left the door open for the Suns to slightly recover from their dismal 13-0 deficit midway through the period.
By the end of the first half, the Celtics cemented a 53-41 lead. However, both teams equally and atrociously shot below 20 percent from the 3-point line. Boston and Phoenix nearly mirrored each other in several other statistical categories including assists, blocks, fast break points, rebounds and steals. The biggest difference maker in this matchup appeared to be the Celtics unselfish play in the second. At this point, Green remained the leading scorer on both teams with 15 points. Considering only two of Green’s points came in the second period, this was indicative of how Boston relentlessly moved the ball around as a team. Overall, the Celtics shot 48 percent from the field heading into the third.
Matters only turned worse for the Suns in the second half. Following their 81-67 lead in the third period, Boston proceeded to embarrass Phoenix in the fourth. The floor featured a flurry of bench players that could cause any audience mistake this matchup for an exhibition game.
The Celtics finished shooting 56 percent from the field and 46 percent from 3-point range. Boston also totaled 19 assists, six blocks, 18 fast break points and 45 rebounds. Phoenix, on the other hand, shot 42 percent from the field and 21 percent from beyond the arc. The Suns closed the game with 26 assists, three blocks, 11 fast break points and 40 rebounds. Both teams recorded eight steals and turned the ball more than 10 times.
For the Suns fans out there hoping to see the Morris twins make an immediate impact, it might be advisable to refer back to their time with the Kansas Jayhawks for the time being.