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Preview: Suns welcome NBA’s best to the Valley

© Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns (37-26, 6th in Western Conference) host the Boston Celtics (48-14, 1st in Eastern Conference) tonight in the teams’ first meeting this season.

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Devin Booker (right ankle sprain) has been upgraded to questionable for tonight’s matchup after missing the last three games. For Boston, Brown (sacroiliac strain) is questionable, while Tatum (right ankle impingement) is probable.

Phoenix enters tonight having won two straight after a 120-113 home victory over the Toronto Raptors Thursday. Kevin Durant led the charge with 35 points, his second straight game scoring 35, while Grayson Allen hit a franchise record seven 3-pointers in the first quarter in a game the Suns never trailed.

This same night, the Celtics fell 115-109 to the defending-champion Nuggets in Denver for their second-straight loss. Jaylen Brown had 41 points and 14 rebounds sin the loss, while Jayson Tatum only scored 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting. Boston only had 10 bench points in the loss and had an unusually bad game shooting from deep, going 11-for-38 (29%).

Still, the Celtics are remarkably first in the NBA in offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions) at 121.4 and second in the NBA in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) at 110.3. This gives them far and away the best net rating in the NBA (point differential per 100 possessions) at 11.1. For reference if the season ended right now, the Celtics would rank sixth all-time in both net rating and point differential of any team in NBA history (per StatMuse).

The Suns know they have their work cut out for them tonight.

Local Game Information

Start Time: 6:30 p.m. MST

Location: Footprint Center

TV Channel: ABC

Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, La Mejor 106.5 FM

Stream: Suns Live (click for more info)

Betting Odds

Line: BOS -5.5

O/U: 226.5

Injury Report

Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker (right ankle sprain) QUESTIONABLE | Josh Okogie (lower abdominal strain) OUT | Nassir Little (left knee inflammation) OUTDamion Lee (right meniscus surgery) OUT

Boston Celtics: Jaylen Brown (sacroiliac strain) QUESTIONABLE | Jayson Tatum (right ankle impingement) PROBABLE | Neemias Queta (right knee hyperextension) PROBABLE

Starters (Projected)

Phoenix Suns: Bradley Beal, Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neale, Kevin Durant, Jusuf Nurkić

Boston Celtics: Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Kristaps Porzingis

Five Keys to Game for Suns

  1. Defending 3-point line
  2. Limiting turnovers
  3. Forcing turnovers
  4. Crashing the glass
  5. Not allowing huge momentum swings

Prediction

Boston 122 – Suns 116

With the Celtics coming off a two-game losing streak, the Suns will have their hands full even more tonight. However, the Suns are starting to finally figure some things out, such as reducing turnovers and amping up the defensive pressure. With that being said, the Celtics’ 3-point shooting could be the difference in this game, as the Suns struggled even defending the Raptors in this area. I expect this game to be close and the stars to show up, but the Celtics to eventually pull away in the end just because of this 3-point shooting.

Last Meeting (Feb. 3, 2023)

Suns Hold Onto Lead, Take Down Celtics

Team Matchup Notes

Here are some stats, notes and everything else to know about the Suns and Celtics before their first matchup of the season (via Suns):

Each team’s stats (via Suns):

Preview: Suns prepare to host the ‘No. 1 team in the NBA right now’

Suns prepare to host the ‘No. 1 team in the NBA right now’

Preview: Injury report

Devin Booker upgraded to questionable for tomorrow’s game vs. Celtics

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Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

 

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