Phoenix Suns at Boston Celtics
When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, January 18, 2020
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
BOSTON – The Boston Celtics are slipping with losses in back-to-back games and five of the last seven. The Celtics will try to take some of the fight they showed in the second half at Milwaukee on Thursday and translate it into a win when they host the Phoenix Suns tonight in the opener of a three-game home stand.
Boston trailed by as many as 27 points at the NBA-best Bucks but battled all the way back before falling 128-123 and felt good about the resiliency the team showed. “That was more Celtics basketball than we’ve seen in a while in the second half,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “That was good. I was encouraged. But obviously, you can’t give up 76 in the first. … So again, I’m really encouraged by the second half, especially coming off the stretch we’ve come off of, to dig deep and give ourselves a chance. That was back to what we want to be.” The Suns got off to a rough start on their three-game road trip with a 123-110 loss at NBA-worst Atlanta on Tuesday but bounced back by crushing the New York Knicks 121-98 on Thursday. Ricky Rubio, who missed Tuesday’s contest due to the birth of his child, returned against New York and settled the team with 25 points and 13 assists.
TIME: 7 p.m. ET. TV: FS Arizona, NBCS Boston
ABOUT THE SUNS (17-24): Phoenix made a key change to the starting lineup on Thursday as center Deandre Ayton was elevated to the first unit and responded with a season-high 26 points and a career-best 21 rebounds. The former No. 1 overall pick had been coming off the bench behind Aron Baynes, who managed five points on 2-of-6 shooting in 15 minutes as a reserve on Thursday. The Suns were also forced to start small forward Mikal Bridges in place of Kelly Oubre Jr., who is in the concussion protocol and considered day-to-day, and Bridges did his best work on the defensive end as Phoenix held the Knicks to 41.1 percent shooting.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (27-13): Boston’s comeback on Thursday was driven by point guard Kemba Walker, who delivered 40 points on 14-of-23 shooting after being held under 20 points in three straight contests. Walker added a season-high 11 rebounds in the setback but did not get much help from swingman Gordon Hayward, who went 1-of-10 from the floor, including 1-of-9 from 3-point range. Hayward is struggling with consistency of his shot and went 8-of-11 in a win over New Orleans before going 4-of-11 against Chicago, 11-of-15 against Detroit on Wednesday and struggling against Milwaukee in his last four games.
- Suns SG Devin Booker scored 29 points on Thursday and is averaging 34 points on the trip.
- Celtics SG Jaylen Brown (thumb) sat out Thursday and is day-to-day.
- Boston earned a 99-85 win at Phoenix on Nov. 18 as Jayson Tatum led the way with 26 points and 11 rebounds.