Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns face off against the NBA's leading defense tonight as they travel to meet Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics.
The Phoenix Suns
(31-27) are making a late season run. Channing Frye has delivered two
consecutive game winning shots in overtime and the Suns have won 11 out of
their last 14 games to propel themselves back into the playoff picture.
Tonight, they go to TD Garden, looking to extend their winning streak and face
a tough Boston Celtics (43-15) squad who have won 5 out of their last 6 games.
In their last game, Phoenix defeated New Jersey in overtime, 104-103. Marcin
Gortat led 6 Suns in double figures with 17 points and 5 rebounds on 8 of 11
shooting from the field. Steve Nash added 10 points and 15 assists. In the
Celtics last game, they administered a 107-102 defeat to the Utah Jazz in Utah.
Ray Allen led the Celts in scoring with 25 points on 5-8 shooting from 3 point
range and Paul Pierce had 21 points and 7 rebounds while going 11 of 11 from
the free throw line.
The NBA odds boards have posted the Celtics as a 6.5 point favorite and the total for the game is 197.5. This
should be a highly contested game. Due to the popularity of these teams, and the fact that they are both playing good basketball, this game should be popular with NBA bettors.
Offense Versus Defense
The Boston Celtics allow a mere 91.3 points per game to opposing teams. Phoenix
averages 105.2 points per game offensively. (104.7 on the road). Phoenix is
1-10 away from home when it scores fewer than 100 points. Boston shoots 49.1%
from the field and 37.3% from 3 point range which will be a difficult task for
a Suns team that allows 105.1 points per game and 47.1% shooting from the
field. Phoenix shoots 47.2% from the field and 37.7% from 3 point range. It
will be interesting to see how the top defense in the league handles a strong
Suns offensive attack.
Center Marcin Gortat has been a great acquisition from the Orlando Magic. The
Suns were thinking that Vince Carter was going to be the center piece but
Carter has been a disaster and Gortat has been a real asset to the team. Gortat
is averaging 11.4 points and 8.2 rebounds on 57.6% shooting from the
field. This is all done in less than 27 minutes per game and is a dramatic
increase from the 4 points per game that he was averaging with the Orlando
Magic. In his last 7 games, Gortat is averaging 14.8 points and 9.1 rebounds
per game. He's averaged 50% shooting in each of the 7 games and will be a
legitimate challenge for Kevin Garnett and the Celtics defense to deal with.
Steve Nash is the model of consistency. Nash isn't what he was in his prime but
even at this point in his career, is still one of the best guards in the
league. In his last 3 games, his shooting has been off at 10 of 39 from the
field. Nash has still been able to be a team leader and feed the hot player.
Nash has recorded double figure assists in 14 of his last 15 games and has
scored in double digits in 25 out of his last 26 games. He'll have to be at his
best, matching up against Rajon Rondo who's one of the best young guards in the
league, who has many options afforded to him on the Celtics roster.
Prior to a poor performance against New Jersey. Aside from game winning shots,
Channing Frye had averaged 20 points per game on a sizzling 48.9% shooting from
3 point range in his last 6 games. The Celtics will have to play tight defense
on Frye, who is deadly from anywhere on the court when he gets into a groove.
I'm referring to the main source of offense on the Celtics, Paul Pierce and Ray
Allen. Pierce is the longest tenured Celtic and is the go to guy. When the
offense becomes stagnant and a bucket is need, look for Pierce to create his
own shot while trying to draw a foul from the opposition. Pierce is shooting
nearly 50% for the season and well over 80% from the foul line. Pierce is
averaging 23.2 points per game in his last 5 games and look for him to be very
active in this game. Ray Allen, the all time 3 point leader, is more of a spot
up shooter. He makes the big shots in tight situations. Allen is known for his
timely shooting and nearly 90% shooting from the foul line. If this game is
close, the Celtics will look for Allen, often.
Give and Take
This is the best way to explain the style of point guard Rajon Rondo's game. In
Rondo's case, he's capable of shooting but his primary role on the team is to
distribute the ball. He has multiple options on a team full of veteran stars.
Rondo has great court awareness and averages 12.1 assists per game. He'll have
a tough matchup with Steve Nash and a hot Suns team but Rondo has youth and a
championship ring on his side.
Head to Head
Suns are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 meetings at Boston
Home Team is 5-2 ATS in the last 7 meetings
Over is 11-5 in the last 16 meetings
What to Expect
It's easy to make a case for both teams in this game. Phoenix won their last
game in OT but it was against a subpar Nets team and Boston's home court is a
tough place to play. The Celtics should have an easy time offensively against a
weak defensive team in the Suns.
Saying that, the Suns have a lot to play for,
trying to climb into a playoff spot. I like the total in this game. Although
Boston has the best defense in the league, the Suns are playing well and sportsbooks have set the total fairly low. Both teams are strong offensively. Take the over.
Free Pick - Boston-Phoenix Over 197.5