The trade deadline is over, and for the Boston Celtics it’s time to move forward without any concerns of trades as they begin the latter part of the season against the Phoenix Suns. Boston is currently on a two game losing streak after losing in Denver and Los Angeles, and are looking to get back into a winning habit tonight. Newly acquired Jordan Crawford will play, and his 13.2 ppg he averaged with the Washington Wizards will be needed.
The Celtics will have to play much better defense than they have displayed in the last two games. While Phoenix isn’t a great team, in fact they’re last in the Western Conference, Boston can’t let their guard down on defense, especially in the pick and role game. The defensive rotation and help defense was nowhere to be found in Los Angeles, and if Boston does that again, the Suns will have no problem scoring in the paint.
Rebounding is another focus for Boston. With Jason Collins now with the Wizards, that’s one less big man Doc Rivers can put on the floor. The Suns have a very effective rebounder in Marcin Gortat, and if he is active on the offensive glass, Phoenix will be given a lot of second chance opportunities. Boston is not a great rebounding team, and to allow second chance buckets is a good way to lose a game. For a team like Phoenix, keeping up with the Celtics will add to their confidence, and they’ll definitely come out strong against a playoff contender.
Tonight, Boston fans get their first look at Jordan Crawford in a Celtics uniform. Crawford can score and is capable of putting up 20 points on any given night. I’m still amazed that Danny Ainge could pull off a deal to acquire Crawford for virtually nothing. If he comes in with the right attitude, he can be a major contributor off the bench, and his offense will be needed to fill in for Leandro Barbosa, who became an instant scoring threat when he came onto the floor.
The Celtics have a chance to turn this west coast trip around these next three games. After tonight, Boston will face the Portland Trail Blazers and the Utah Jazz before they head back home. Getting some momentum going into March would be big, as the season is winding down and every game becomes crucial. Boston should win tonight as long as they play defense and rebound. Tonight begins the final push towards the playoffs, and a win would be a step in the right direction.