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Preview: Suns get final crack at Celtics with healthy Devin Booker

© Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Less than a week after their first meeting of the season, the Phoenix Suns (38-27, 7th in Western Conference) travel to face the league-leading Boston Celtics (51-14, 1st in Eastern Conference) tonight in their final regular season meeting. This is the second contest of Phoenix’s four-game road trip, which continues tomorrow against the Charlotte Hornets.

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The Celtics won the first contest on Saturday 117-107 despite Kevin Durant scoring a season-high 45 points. Devin Booker and Kristaps Porzingis did not play in this matchup, but Booker is now back while Porzingis remains out.

The Suns last defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 117-111 Monday night, coming back from down as much as 19. Durant had his personal-best fourth straight game with at least 35 points, scoring 37 and grabbing eight rebounds. Booker had 27 points and seven assists, while Bradley Beal added 24 points and five rebounds. The Suns are now 5-0 when all three score 20 or more points in the same game.

Despite missing Jaylen Brown, Porzingis and Al Horford Tuesday night, the Celtics beat the Utah Jazz 123-107 to pick up their third straight win. Jayson Tatum scored 38 in the win, while Derrick White had 24 of his own including going 7-of-11 from 3-point range.

Boston is an insane 29-3 at home this season. With Booker back, what are the Suns’ chances?

Local Game Information

Start Time: 4:30 p.m. MST

Location: TD Garden

TV Channel: 3TV/ AZ Family, TNT

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: 231.5

Injury Report

Phoenix Suns: Nassir Little (left knee inflammation) PROBABLE | Eric Gordon (left knee contusion) QUESTIONABLE | Josh Okogie (lower abdominal strain) OUTDamion Lee (right meniscus surgery) OUT

Boston Celtics: Kristaps Porzingis (right hamstring strain) OUT | Jaylen Brown (left hip contusion) QUESTIONABLE

Starters (Projected)

Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Grayson Allen, Kevin Durant, Jusuf Nurkić

Boston Celtics: Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford

Five Keys to Game for Suns

  1. Guarding the 3-point line
  2. Getting help outside of just the stars
  3. Figuring out a tighter rotation
  4. Limiting turnovers
  5. Not allowing big runs

Prediction

Celtics 123 – Suns 120

With all of the star power in this game, it could shape up to be one of the best in the NBA this season. The Suns really struggled outside of Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal in the teams’ last meeting, but now add Devin Booker to the fold to open up more opportunities for everyone else. They have to find some rhythm besides the Big 3 and a big part of that is locking down a rotation for a big game like this. Last time against Boston, the Suns played 10 players and did not play  Bol Bol consistently even though he was playing well. With Booker back, this should give Phoenix’s coaching staff a better opportunity to sure up its rotation.

The number one thing both coach Frank Vogel and Kevin Durant pointed out after last game was that Boston’s 3-point shooting was the main factors in the loss. The Celtics shot 15-for-39 from deep Saturday and lead the league in makes and attempts. This will be one thing the Suns can try to focus in on. Phoenix does have a much better shot of winning this game with Booker available, so we’ll see if they can correct some of their obvious mistakes from last time and get a statement win. However, I think Boston is just further along that Phoenix right now and although this game will be a lot of back-and-forth, I have Boston coming out on top.

Last Meeting (March 9, 2024)

Kevin Durant’s Standout Performance Not Enough as Suns Fall to Celtics

Team Matchup Notes

Each team’s stats (via Suns):

Preview: Injury reports

Suns injury list shortens for tomorrow’s game vs. Celtics

Kristaps Porzingis ruled out again against Suns

Preview: Kevin Durant’s respect and praise for Jayson Tatum

Kevin Durant recognizes just how special Jayson Tatum is

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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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