Tip: 7:30PM Court: TD Garden Watch it: CSNNE Hear it: WEEI
Referees: Jason Phillips, David Guthrie, Josh Tiven
The Suns won their only matchup with the Celtics last year. Marcin Gortat had 24 points and 12 rebounds. But the Celtics didn’t have Rondo, and this was before Avery Bradley became St. Bradley, Patron Saint of Lockdown D.
Get it to: Rajon Rondo
I’ll trust Rondo to got at Goran Dragic and get past him. With Gortat on KG, Scola on Bass, and P.J. Tucker (a young, defensive spark that could be disruptive) on Paul Pierce, it’s up to Rondo to draw them away from their assignments and get guys open shots. I think a steady diet of pick-and-rolls to go along with their usual sets will get the job done.
Plus, running Dragic off of a bunch of good, hard picks will help in this….
Gotta stop: Goran Dragic
Not only the Suns leader in scoring in assists, he’s a point guard capable of causing the problems that have plagued the Celtics in the past. In wins, Dragic is averaging 17.5 ppg on 50.4% shooting along with 7.4 assists. But in losses, he’s putting up 13 ppg on 42.7% shooting with 5.8 assists. Slay the Dragic and the rest of the Suns should wilt.
Stick Bradley on him, pick him up full court, make his life a living hell. Between being forced to play defense and being forced to bring the ball up against Bradley, the Celtics might have this kid sucking his thumb while curled up in the fetal position by halftime.
The Wild Card: Marcin Gortat
Since going to Phoenix, Gortat has feasted on the Celtics. He’s averaging 18.6 points on 22-39 shooting (56.4%) and 14 rebounds a game. It’s possible he can explode again and keep this game tighter than it should be.
How we see it goin’ down
You guys are going to hate this….
This is a case of two teams heading in opposite directions. The Celtics have won 3 games in a row against quality opponents. Their defense has risen to the top 10, and they’re riding high on the return of Avery Bradley.
The Suns have lost 9 of their last 10 games… and they’ve lost 10 straight road games. They’ve only won twice on the road all year.
I know you guys probably want me to reverse jinx this pick and say the C’s will have a let-down against a bad team after 3 big, emotional wins. And while I’ll acknowledge that a let-down is possible, I’m betting the C’s are good enough to pull out of it, and the Suns are bad enough to let them.
Attack them defensively… let Bradley, Lee and Rondo take turns beating up their back court, and enjoy a little Gino when it’s all said and done.