Celtics-Suns preview


Celtics-Suns preview

By JessicaCamerato

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

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a CSNNE.com report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”