Celtics-Suns preview: C's look to end streaky play

Celtics-Suns preview: C's look to end streaky play
February 22, 2013, 1:15 pm
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PHOENIX — Near the top of the Boston Celtics's to-do list is a desire to be a more consistent team.

Strangely, that's exactly what they have been for most of this season although the consistency on display clearly isn't what they want.

This group is about as streaky a team as you'll find in the NBA. They have won six in a row. They lost six in a row. They bounced back to win seven in a row.

They have become a team that has consistently played its best basketball in pockets of games all season.

"We've had our ups and our downs all season, no doubt," Boston's Courtney Lee told CSNNE.com. "But we're definitely playing better basketball now. We'll be fine."

Kevin Garnett isn't overly concerned about the streaky play, either. He points to the series of injuries that have hit the team this season, along with the new additions to the roster all conspiring to make an already challenging season even tougher.

"We're not perfect by any means but we're a working group," Garnett said. "We just have to get back on the horse, so to speak. The (All-Star) break kind of nipped the momentum a little bit but it's something you have to be conscious of. And it's something that if we want to work our way out of it, it has to be the group not one or two individuals."

Avoiding a third straight loss will indeed be part of the motivation for Boston heading into tonight's game.

Here are some factors that will likely go far in determining whether the C's can "get back on the horse" and ride out of town with a much-needed win, or whether this most recent losing streak will continue to grow.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Look for Phoenix guard Goran Dragic to try and make a similar adjustment to handling Avery Bradley's pressure, that Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash did on Wednesday. "You could see Avery's ball pressure affected Nash in the first game, and I thought Nash came in with a very aggressive mindset (on Wednesday)," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Nash came in with a very aggressive mindset; I mean he came in trying to attack Avery and that's what veterans do."

MATCHUP TO WATCH:  Kevin Garnett vs. Marcin Gortat: Garnett has the edge against most NBA centers, but Gortat is the kind of physical big man that can be problematic for Garnett. Throw in the fact that the C's are even thinner in the middle after trading Jason Collins to Washington, and this matchup has the potential to be quite challenging for the Celtics.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jason Terry has done a solid job scoring since Rajon Rondo's season-ending injury. But with the addition of Jordan Crawford, it'll be worth keeping an eye on how Crawford impacts his minutes, if at all.

STAT TO TRACK: Boston would love for its defense to get stronger as the game progresses, which would be consistent with the way Phoenix has played season. The Suns average 25.1 points per game in the first quarter which ranks 10th in the NBA. From there, they dip both in terms of scoring average and ranking. In the second quarter, they average 24.1 points (18th in the NBA) while their average in third and fourth quarters is 23.5 (20th) and 21.8 points (30th), respectively.