Celtics-Suns preview

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Celtics-Suns preview

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

The Phoenix Suns' 20-23 record is not particularly noteworthy. Between the departure of Amare Stoudemire last summer and an early season trade, the team has been struggling to hit its stride.

As the Boston Celtics come to Phoenix on Friday, the Suns are currently on a four-game losing streak and rank 10th in the Western Conference.

Individually, though, there are several members of the Suns squad that have had success against the Celtics over their careers. Steve Nash (11.5 points, 8.2 assists in 25 games vs. Celtics) isnt the only one who has challenged the Cs in the past:

Vince Carter: After spending nearly his entire career in the Eastern Conference, Carter has played 44 games against the Celtics. He is averaging 22 points against the Cs and shows no hesitancy in this matchup. Last season he attempted 79 field goals (37 FG) over seven games during the Eastern Conference Finals with the Orlando Magic. Carter isnt afraid to shoot against the Celtics - the question is, will the Cs prevent them from falling?

Grant Hill: The Celtics are stacked with ageless veterans, and the Suns also have one in Hill. The 38-year-old forward is scoring nearly 15 points per game this season in the starting lineup. In 37 career games the Celtics, he is averaging 18.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. These two teams will put years of experience on the court - how will the battle of the vets stack up?

Mickael Pietrus: Pietrus is shooting 45 percent from three-point range during his career against the Celtics. He faced the Cs in the last two postseasons as a member of the Magic, and each year he posed a threat from long-range. He averaged over 12 points per game off the bench during 2009 Eastern Conference semifinals in which the Magic eliminated the Celtics. Pietrus productivity, however, is down this season - will he find his rhythm playing against a familiar foe?

Josh Childress: It has been three years since the Celtics last faced Childress. Before he left the NBA to play in Greece, Childress used his athleticism to pester the Cs in a seven-game, first-round series in 2008 with the Atlanta Hawks. He averaged 7 points and nearly 6 rebounds off the bench, causing problems on the fast break and in transition. Time has passed since Childress last competed against the Celtics - will they stop him from giving the Suns a spark?

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

Fully healthy Celtics prepare for Giannis Antetokounmpo

Fully healthy Celtics prepare for Giannis Antetokounmpo

BOSTON – Brad Stevens began his pre-game press conference with a seldom-used proclamation. 

“Everyone’s available,” he said. “Doesn’t happen very often.”

Jonas Jerebko, who did fully participate in the team’s practice on Tuesday due to a sore left knee, was questionable for tonight’s game. His availability can only help the Celtics in tonight’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, one of the hottest teams in the NBA. 

The Bucks (38-36) have won 12 of their last 15 games which includes a 118-108 win at Charlotte on Tuesday. 

Tony Snell lit up the Hornets for a career-high 26 points. Rookie Malcolm Brogdon had a double-double of 14 points and 10 assists. 

And then there’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, a matchup nightmare who had 20 points and eight rebounds.

“He does some things,” Stevens said. “That’s the best way to say it. He keeps adding to it. Him in transition is like, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody like him.”

Indeed, the Greek Freak has been a vital cog in Milwaukee’s resurgence from a team bound for the lottery (again), to one that could potentially wind up as the fifth seed in the East. 

“As he’s become more skilled,” Stevens said. “He continues to put you in a worst bind. He’s tough; he’s good.”

Celtics guard Avery Bradley said there’s a long laundry list of things Boston must do tonight to emerge victorious. At the top of that has to be finding ways to attack Milwaukee’s length which stands out in a league full of lanky, long-armed players.

“Ball movement, getting the ball to the next side, not letting them load up their defense, shot fakes, drawing fouls … I can go down the list,” Bradley said. “But the most important thing is moving the ball; making them defend side to side, making them have to guard us so they’re not in position to block shots or make shots tough on us.” 

Tanguay: No pressure, Al, but Celts' postseason success hinges on you

Tanguay: No pressure, Al, but Celts' postseason success hinges on you

Hey, Al Horford. No pressure, but these upcoming playoffs are on you. 

The Celtics are having a great REGULAR season. But for this postseason to be anything but regular, Al needs to come up big.

To his credit, he's done that recently. But he need to play even better in the playoffs. Better isn’t even the right word. Power. That’s it: Power. Horford needs to play with more power. 

The problem is this has never really been his game, and therefore it may prove the Celtics overpaid when they gave him a max contract. 

During his 74 postseason games with the Hawks, Horford averaged 12.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. This season he has averaged 6.9 rebounds for the Celtics. There's no way his rebounding numbers an be that low in the playoffs. 

I want at least 18 points and 8 rebounds per game from him over the course of the Celts post season run. And NO THREEs. I know the guy can shoot, but he needs to keep that 6-foot-10 body of his twelve feet or less from the hoop. 

So if the Celtics let you down or underperform this spring, it won't be on Isaiah. It will be on you, Al. 

Again, no pressure.