The Phoenix Suns are in the midst of a five-game Eastern Conference road trip and will meet the Boston Celtics at TD Garden next. Thursday’s matchup is the second and final meeting between the teams, who are jockeying for position in their respective conferences.
In their previous head-to-head, the Phoenix Suns defeated the Boston Celtics 100-91. It was the Suns’ fifth win in six games at the time, as Mikal Bridges scored 19 points to lead a balanced scoring attack with five players in double figures. The Suns nearly gave up a 17-point lead in the third quarter when Jayson Tatum and company rallied to close the gap.
Eventually, the Phoenix Suns prevailed with clutch baskets and free throws down the stretch.
Fixture - Phoenix Suns vs. Boston Celtics | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Thursday, April 22nd, 7:00 PM ET (Friday, April 23rd, 4:30 AM IST)
Venue - TD Garden, Boston, MA
Phoenix Suns Preview
Two consecutive victories over title contenders from the East have improved the Phoenix Suns' record to 42-16 - just a game and a half behind the NBA-leading Utah Jazz. First, it was the Milwaukee Bucks who fell 128-127 in overtime on Monday. Then, it was the Philadelphia 76ers’ turn on Wednesday, losing to the Suns 116-113.
The Phoenix Suns had to overcome a 38-point, 17-rebound and 4-assist performance from the Sixers’ Joel Embiid. Chris Paul bolstered his MVP campaign, scoring 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting and 5-of-8 from the 3-point range. Paul also added eight assists to lead his team to a second straight road win ahead of their head-to-head with the Boston Celtics.
Key Player - Chris Paul
Chris Paul is taking his Phoenix Suns side to new heights and leading them into unfamiliar territory this late in the season. Unlike last year in the Orlando Bubble where they were hunters, the Suns are now among those hunted with the second-best record in the NBA.
It’s all because of Paul, who has breathed life and confidence into the Phoenix Suns. The last time the Suns were in the playoffs was in 2010, years before Devin Booker was drafted. Averaging 15.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game, the 11-time All-Star is showing everyone that his best days as a player aren't behind him whatsoever.
Facing the Boston Celtics, he will match up with Kemba Walker, who is coming off an illness but should be ready for game time on Thursday.
Phoenix Suns Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Chris Paul l Shooting Guard - Devin Booker l Small Forward - Mikal Bridges l Power Forward - Cameron Johnson l Center - Deandre Ayton
Boston Celtics Preview
The Boston Celtics had a six-game winning streak snapped in a 102-96 loss at home to the Chicago Bulls last Monday. It was their first defeat in nearly two weeks and just their second this April. Coach Brad Stevens has finally found the right buttons to push to get his troops back in the hunt for the playoffs.
At 31-27, the Boston Celtics are sixth in the East but are just half a game ahead of the Miami Heat, as both teams would like to avoid going through the play-in tournament. That makes the matchup with the Phoenix Suns all the more crucial, as a loss could bring the Celtics down to seventh spot.
Jayson Tatum's potential absence due to an ankle injury makes the task more difficult for the Celtics. He is questionable for the Phoenix Suns game and will be a game-time decision.
Key Player - Kemba Walker
The point guard battle between Chris Paul and Kemba Walker is going to be an interesting matchup between players who have multiple All-Star appearances.
Walker may have finally turned his season around after months of working his way back from stem-cell treatment. It took a while for Walker to play to his usual standards. However, the 30-year-old turned a corner in the last week of March.
In his last 12 games, Walker has averaged 18.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.1 assists. It’s no coincidence that the Boston Celtics were 8-4 in those games and have become one of the hottest teams in April.
Boston Celtics Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Kemba Walker l Shooting Guard - Marcus Smart l Small Forward - Jaylen Brown l Power Forward - Jayson Tatum l Center - Robert Williams III
Suns vs. Celtics Match Prediction
The Phoenix Suns have been flirting with disaster the last two games but were able to pull off wins in the end. Thursday's matchup with the Boston Celtics will be their third game in four nights on the road, so fatigue will be a factor.
As they face a well-rested Boston Celtics squad, the Phoenix Suns will need to grind it out to get a win. Jae Crowder could be sidelined with an injury and it will be up to the Celts to take advantage.
If Tatum is able to play through his own injury, the Boston Celtics may be able to steal this game from the road-weary Phoenix Suns. Without the two-time All-Star, however, this game will go to the visitors easily.
Where to Watch Suns vs. Celtics?
The game between the Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics will be televised locally by Bally Sports Arizona and NBC Sports Boston. For international audiences, the match will be available on NBA League Pass.