A pair of playoff hopefuls collide in an inter-conference clash when the Boston Celtics (37-15, 20-6 home) and Phoenix Suns (27-26, 8-17 away) take the floor. Boston throttled Phoenix earlier this season in Arizona, knocking off the Suns, 125-98.
Friday night’s tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. EST inside the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Boston is a 9.5-point favorite, and the over/under total is 225.5 points.
What to Know – Phoenix Suns
Phoenix lost earlier in the week on the road to the Atlanta Hawks, snapping a two-game winning streak. The Suns sit in seventh place in the Western Conference standings with only a one-game cushion separating them from falling outside the playoff picture.
The Suns sit in the bottom half of the league averaging 112.7 points per game while shooting 46.2% from the floor and 38.4% from beyond the arc. On defense, Phoenix ranks sixth in the league limiting opponents to 111.8 ppg, 47.0% shooting from the field, and 36.4% shooting from three.
Phoenix remains without the services of leading scorer Devin Booker as he continues to recover from a groin injury and is expected to be back near the middle of the month. Deandre Ayton (17.8 ppg) and Mikal Bridges (16.9 ppg) have stepped up to lead the Suns offense while Booker has been out.
The Suns own a 28-25 record against the spread this season and are 12-13 ATS in away games. Phoenix is 10-4 ATS over its previous 14 meetings with the Boston Celtics.
What to Know – Boston Celtics
The top team in the Eastern Conference looks to win its third in a row and build their advantage atop the standings to three games. Boston has the best record in the NBA and is coming off a blowout victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.
Offensively, the Celtics are second in the NBA, scoring 118.2 points per game thanks to 47.4% shooting from the field and 37.2% shooting from deep. Boston’s defense ranks eighth in the league, surrendering 112.0 ppg, 47.0% shooting from the floor, and 36.4% shooting from the 3-point line.
Jayson Tatum leads the Celtics offense and is fourth in the league averaging 31.0 ppg. Tatum has scored 30 or more points in seven of the last eight games, highlighted by a 51-point effort in a victory over Charlotte in mid-January. Jaylen Brown is right behind Tatum, adding 27.0 ppg to give Boston a pair of dynamic scorers.
Boston sits 26-25-1 ATS and 14-12 ATS on its home floor. The Celtics are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven contests.
The Pick is In
Boston owns a stellar record on their home floor and while the Celtics are one of the best teams in the league, they have been one of the hottest teams since the calendar turned to 2023. If the Suns are healthy this is a different outcome, but Boston will take advantage of Booker’s absence and pounce on Phoenix early to cruise to victory.
The Pick: Boston Celtics -9.5