While the brutal weather in the northeast has captivated many news stories, another clash of forces will soon come to pass. As the Boston Celtics emerge from the frigid temperatures to face the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, February 19th, we will see whether they can shake off the cold of winter to extinguish the Suns. So, let us take a quick look at what we can expect from either team when they hit the court.
The Luck of the Irish?
Unfortunately, one of the weaknesses of the Celtics continues to be their lack of viable shooters; particularly from the three-point range. While new player Jeff Green was thought to be a breakout prospect in the 2013 season, he only scored a little over one-third of his shots from fifteen feet and beyond. Likewise, Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo are thought to be some of the worst shooters in the NBA. Even MarShon Brooks likely needs significant work to round out his rebounding and shooting game.
However, defence is an entirely different matter. While Rondo may not be the best in offence, his skills on the defence are not to be trifled with. This may lead to a number of successful turnovers against the Suns and with large-bodied rebounders such as Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace, the team may very well focus on a strong defence as opposed to an aggressive offence. So, the Celtics will need to embrace a fast game pace, a high number of turnovers and a defence that keeps the Suns on their toes.
Will the Suns Shine?
On the heels of the worst year in their history, the Suns have much to prove. Having acquired the youngest coach in the entire NBA and a host of new players, integration is the key to success when playing against the Celtics.
New rookies are in the lineup and with a coach that is focused on developing new talent (with not much else being said), it is difficult to predict what strategy the Suns will adopt when tackling the Celtics. However, we mustn’t forget that team leader Goran Dragic had multiple instances when he scored 30 points or more in a single game. It is expected that he will fare similarly against the Celtics.
Notwithstanding Dragic, veteran players such as Emeka Okafor and Channing Frye will likely see more bench time this Wednesday. Instead, we will see players including Archie Goodwin and Miles Plumlee take to the court. As the Celtics are not considered to be a top-tier team, the Suns will be more likely to post these new prospects than they would if they were playing against a team with a better record.
All in all, this upcoming game seems to be more a test of which team can get their players on an even keel than what massive talents will come to the court. While the Suns have a younger team, they are most likely aware that a “running and gunning” strategy will not work well against the ability for the Celtics to snatch game-changing turnovers. On the contrary, the Celtics realise that as of yet, their offence and shooting abilities are risky assets when we consider that the younger players of the Suns may suddenly take advantage of these weaknesses. If the Celtics focus on turnovers and keep up a fast-paced defence, they are likely to walk away winners this upcoming Wednesday.