Celtics-Suns review: Boston bench key in win

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Celtics-Suns review: Boston bench key in win

BOSTON The Boston Celtics starters weren't too shabby against the Phoenix Suns. 
But the C's second unit?
Better.
Better than their Phoenix counterparts.
Better than the Phoenix starters. 
Better than their own starters. 
It was the kind of performance that once again showcased the promise that this unit has, and reaffirmed why players such as Jason Terry remained confident in the second unit's success even when they weren't playing particularly well.
"We'll get it together," Terry told CSNNE.com recently. "It's going to take time, but we'll get it. We'll start clicking. We'll take off."
That was indeed the case on Wednesday night as Boston's second unit outscored the Suns' backups, 47-16.
And it wasn't just one or two players, either. 
It was the kind of balanced bench attack that has made the Celtics (18-17) one of the hottest teams in the NBA.
Bench play was among the many keys weighing in the C's favor on Wednesday against the Suns who have now lost 11 in a row on the road. Here are some other keys outlined prior to the game, and how they eventually played out. 
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The days of scoring a ton of points seems to be a thing of the past in Phoenix. They come into tonight's game averaging 96.4 points per game which ranks 16th in the league. They haven't finished outside of the top 10 in scoring since the 2003-2004 season.
WHAT WE SAW: Phoenix continued its season-long trend of not scoring a lot of points. Their 79-point total on Wednesday was the 10th time in their last 11 games in which they failed to score 100 or more points.

MATCHUP TO WATCH:  Brandon Bass vs Luis Scola: Bass isn't scoring as much as he did last season, but his defense and rebounding has been solid during Boston's current three-game winning streak. Scola is a high-energy, multiple-effort kind of player so keeping him off the boards - especially the offensive ones - will be key for the C's.
WHAT WE SAW: Scola got his share of points (16) and rebounds (8) but there was never a point in the game in which his play was making a huge difference or impact on the game. Bass (6 points, 5 rebounds) didn't have a huge game scoring the ball himself. But his defense more than made up for whatever he didn't get done offensively.

PLAYER TO WATCH: It seems playing against the Boston Celtics brings out the best in Marcin Gortat, a player the C's may have some interest in as we get closer to the trading deadline. In the three games he has played against Boston since joining the Suns, he has averaged 18.7 points and 14 rebounds while shooting 56 percent from the field.
WHAT WE SAW: Gortat did what Gortat always does against Boston and that's leave the game with a double-double under his belt. It was essentially just another day at the office against the Celtics for Gortat who had 12 points and 14 rebounds while shooting 6-for-12 from the field.

STAT TO TRACK: The third quarter has been decisively positive for the C's lately, and quite devastating to the Suns. In its last three wins, Boston outscored its opponents in the third quarter each game, by an average of 12.3 points per game. Meanwhile, Phoenix is giving up a league-high 25.6 points in the third quarter this season.
WHAT WE SAW: The Celtics' string of dominating the third quarter came to an end. Fortunately for them, the same can not be said for their winning streak. Despite being outscored 23-14 in the third, Boston's ability to dominate the second and fourth quarters would prove to be the difference on Wednesday night. 

Morning Skate: Tempered expectations for Bolts' rookie Sergachev

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Morning Skate: Tempered expectations for Bolts' rookie Sergachev

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while simply shaking my head at David Price. What a typically soft, boorish ballplayer not meant for a big market where more is expected of those wearing the Red Sox uniform.

*There are tempered expectations for rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev as he gets things going with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

*Keith Yandle believes that Dale Tallon being back in charge of the Florida Panthers is going to bring unity and solidarity to the Panthers once again.

*Kevin Shattenkirk believes that the New York Rangers are right on the cusp of challenging for a Stanley Cup title.

*Here 20 thoughts from the just-concluded Chicago Blackhawks prospect camp, where there’s some pretty strong, young talent.

*Even as the highest-paid player in the NHL, Connor McDavid is underpaid for what he brings to the table, says Ron MacLean.

*Interesting look at the Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog situation in Colorado, where both players have watched their performance fall off a bit. This is why I’d be very nervous about giving up the farm to trade for either of these players if I’m the Bruins. The jury is out on whether they’re in decline as players, or if it’s simply the mess in Colorado getting them down.  

*For something completely different: What a sweet interaction between "Wonder Woman" Gal Gadot and a young, emotional fan all decked out in WW gear.  

 

Report: Celtics have called Cavaliers about potential Kyrie Irving trade

Report: Celtics have called Cavaliers about potential Kyrie Irving trade

Celtics fans aren’t the only ones thinking of ways Kyrie Irving could end up in Boston.

Even though it would be hard to imagine last season’s No. 2 seed in the East trading one of the best players in the league to last season’s No. 1 seed in the East, ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote Monday that the Celtics have indeed called the Cavs about the 25-year-old point guard. 

Wrote Lowe:

Most teams, including the asset-rich Celtics, have placed the obligatory call letting Cleveland know they would like to be kept in the loop, sources say. Boston could offer Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and one of their golden picks -- Brooklyn's pick next season, or the Lakers/Kings pick they got from Philly in the Markelle Fultz deal. It's unclear if they would dangle all of that, but those picks could represent the young stud Cleveland needs. Regardless, a deal between the East's two best teams seems unlikely.

While nobody’s counting on Irving joining the Celtics, a trade of Irving elsewhere could still swing the balance in the East in Boston’s favor depending on what Cleveland gets back. Irving reportedly requested a trade from Cleveland earlier this month.