When thinks were going as poorly as they were for the Boston Celtics, you had to start somewhere. Losers of five games in a row, the Celtics clobbered the division rival Toronto Raptors, 96-73, at home on Friday night to snap their streak.
Now that they're back in the win column, the Celtics (5-9) look to build a winning streak against Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns (5-8) at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Friday night at TD Garden in Boston, MA (TV/Radio: CSNNE/WEEI 93.7 FM).
Boston and Phoenix met twice last season, with each team winning once. The Celtics were victorious at home, 88-71, on Jan. 28 despite a tremendous game from Marcin Gortat, who recorded 19 points and 17 rebounds in the loss. In the season series finale, the Suns prevailed, 115-103, on Mar. 2 despite a 28-point game from Kevin Garnett.
This season, the two teams only meet once. Boston enters the game at a disadvantage, as star point guard Rajon Rondo is doubtful for the game, according to Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. Rondo left Wednesday night's win over the Raptors with a sore right wrist after a flagrant one foul from Linas Kleiza late in the third quarter.
Needless to say, the absence of Rondo would be a big one for Boston. Rondo scored a game-high 21 points on Wednesday and is averaging just under a double-double this season with 15.0 points and 9.4 assists in 13 games.
Without Rondo, it's likely that Keyon Dooling or Avery Bradley will step up and start. Dooling has been battling a medial collateral ligament injury and did not practice on Thursday, meaning its unlikely that he will play. With that being the case, Bradley (who scored eight off the bench Wednesday) will probably start and E'Twaun Moore will be his backup.
Regardless of who starts at the point, they will have their hands full against Nash. In 13 games, Nash is averaging a double-double with 15.1 points and 10.1 assists while shooting at a pristine 55.2 percent clip from the field. Nash definitely isn't the player he was five or so years ago, but don't kid yourself -- he's still a very, very dangerous player.
Boston and Phoenix appear to be shells of their former selves, with each team owning five wins and combining for 17 losses through nearly one quarter of the season. A win would go a long way towards each team's potential turnaround.