The struggling Boston Celtics host the defending Western Conference champions, Phoenix Suns. These are two teams at very different points with the Suns picking up where they left off last season while Boston seems to be getting worse.
Phoenix Suns vs. Boston Celtics
Friday, December 31, 2021 – 01:00 PM EST at TD Garden
Celtics Need to Figure Things Out Fast
There have been cracks in the Celtics' armor for at least two-plus seasons now. Last year, I was constantly calling out Brad Stevens in articles and on any basketball show that I do on social media (check out the BMR NBA Show).
Just a few years ago, most experts hailed Stevens as a basketball genius although he had never really accomplished anything. He has had some good runs, starting in college where he led Butler to back-to-back national championship games which at the time seemed like an impossible feat.
He then followed that up by making the Celtics into contenders despite the team being so young. The thing about that is, those same young guys are now grown men and as such, started to tune Stevens out after a while. You could especially see it in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
As their profile grew as players, they felt less inclined to do as they're told. The move was finally made to get Stevens off the sidelines and upstairs into the front office. In his place, Ime Udoka has found life very difficult for a lot of the same reasons Stevens did.
It is thought that Udoka is the type of guy that would challenge Brown and Tatum. So far the results have not been good. The Celtics are three games below .500 and have never looked good at any point this season.
Tonight they come into this game against the Suns as -4.5-point home underdogs and in all honesty, I feel like this number is short. The opening line was Suns -5 so there is action coming in on Boston but I don't see why.
Suns Are the Real Deal
The Suns have faced adversity of their own in the form of injuries to both Devon Booker and DeAndre Ayton at different points of the season. That hasn't stopped them from being a dominant force. There was always a concern of a Finals hangover but this team is all business all the time.
The other night, against the Clippers, the Celtics set an NBA record for three-point futility. They shot 9.5% from three on 42 attempts which seems like a misprint but it's true. They were historically bad but for me, their performance was actually worse than it seems.
First of all, the Celtics had a lead in the 4th quarter at one point. With only two minutes left, it was a 4-point game. Yet for some reason, the Celtics thought it was a good idea to attempt 18 threes in the fourth quarter. Remember, they only made 3 in the previous three quarters on 24 attempts.
That is the sign of a bad team with little direction and even less willingness to play the game the right way. How can they possibly justify taking 18 threes in the fourth quarter and only 11 free throws the entire game?
There is a real chance that the Celtics get blown out on their home floor tonight in front of a national audience and I'll take the Suns for my NBA pick while I watch that.
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