The Celtics take on the struggling Phoenix Suns as they welcome back Avery Bradley from injury.
We’re getting into the home stretch of the season, 65 games in with just 17 left — including tonight — and with all the talk about the merits of tanking, Boston has been right in the race for a coveted top-4 spot in the lottery. They’re currently tied with Los Angeles and Utah for the 4th worst record in the league.
Phoenix, however, has been in the hunt for a playoff spot all year thanks to the impressive debut from first year head coach Jeff Hornacek — my pick for COY if they make the playoffs. They’ve lost seven out of their last ten games and just got Eric Bledsoe back to complete that dynamic two point guard threat of him and Goran Dragic — a combination which has a plus 7.7 net rating while on the court. Avery Bradley returning tonight is a huge sigh of relief for Brad Stevens and the coaching staff. Going up against these two point guards without someone like Avery who can at least spare Rondo from whichever one is hot at any given moment.
The last time these two teams played in late February, Phoenix pulled away by six in a game that wasn’t very aesthetically pleasing to the viewer.
The biggest challenge to tonight will be trying to ease Avery back into the flow of the game. Missing more than a month of basketball surely has to make things difficult when it comes to team chemistry. Seeing how he fits into an offense with Rondo now somewhat near 100% will be interesting for a duo that has played just 97 minutes together since Rondo tore his ACL last winter. These two have already shown that they have a symbiotic relationship by feeding off of the other’s abilities. Rondo allows Avery to move without the ball and get easy hoops off cuts, while Avery is quite content guarding a team’s best perimeter player to allow Rondo to play off-ball defense more often. It’s a solid duo and one that the front office is going to have to decide whether they want this to be their backcourt of the future — Rondo’s contract is up in the summer of 2015 and Avery’s rookie deal is up this offseason.
The game tips-off at 7:30 tonight on CSNNE/League Pass so be sure to check the site later tonight or in the morning for a recap of the action!
Tags: Game Preview