Boston Celtics at Phoenix Suns
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Arizona
PHOENIX – The road trip isn’t going so well for the Boston Celtics, and the frustration is starting to show. Kyrie Irving and company will try to keep their focus on their own issues on the court and avoid a three-game slide when they Celtics visit the Phoenix Suns on Thursday.
The Celtics dropped a 102-101 heartbreaker at Indiana to begin the five-game trip and fell 115-107 at Denver on Monday in a game that was most notable for Nuggets guard Jamal Murray scoring 48 points and Irving getting upset when he tried for 50 in the final seconds. “There’s a tradition and a respect within the league, as well as in any basketball game,” Irving, who was fined $25,000 by the NBA for throwing the ball into the stands after the game, told reporters. “Obviously, you’ve won the game, you have it sealed, you’ve had a great game, game of your life, and you do something like that, it’s just … it’s petty. It’s immature.” The Suns have their own guard capable of dropping 50 points in Devin Booker, but he is more concerned with his young team building some cohesion. “I think all good teams have that trust and chemistry, where they’re able to get on each other and know that it’s for a better purpose,” Booker told reporters. “For us, I don’t think we have that right now. We’re not comfortable with each other, we don’t step on each other’s toes, we don’t push each other, and I think that’s what we need to do.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, NBCS Boston, FS Arizona (Phoenix)
ABOUT THE CELTICS (6-4): Boston held a 10-point edge after the first quarter in Indiana and enjoyed a 15-point cushion after the first period in Denver, only to take a tumble in the second. “We just got to keep doing what it takes to win, like the stuff that gets us our lead, we have to maintain,” Celtics guard Jaylen Brown told reporters. “We can’t start wavering after we get a big lead. We’ve got to keep hitting them in the mouth. We let our foot off the gas, we lose.” Irving’s saltiness after the Denver loss had little to do with his own performance after he matched a season-high 31 with points on 13-of-17 shooting in 34 minutes.
ABOUT THE SUNS (2-8): Booker scored a team-high 25 points in a 102-100 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday that snapped a seven-game slide but needed 21 shots to reach 20 points in a 104-82 loss at home to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. “We thought last game would be our step forward,” Booker told reporters after the loss. “We definitely took a step back tonight. We didn’t protect home court, came in here and got blown out in front of our fans. It’s embarrassing.” Booker is trying to build chemistry with No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton, who collected 15 points and 13 rebounds for his sixth double-double on Tuesday but struggled to 6-of-17 from the floor.
1. Celtics PF Marcus Morris went 0-of-4 from 3-point range on Monday after going 18-of-29 from beyond the arc in the previous five contests.
2. Phoenix PF Richaun Holmes recorded his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench on Tuesday.
3. Boston took the last three and six of the last seven in the series.