The 2021 calendar year comes to an end for the Suns and Celtics when they face off in an early 1:00 PM ET start on New Year’s Eve at TD Garden.
Both teams are looking forward to 2022 coming for different reasons – the Suns so they can buckle down and make another trip to the NBA Finals and the Celtics so they can reset and start playing up to their potential.
Phoenix will be on the road for the New Year, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as they’ve lost to Golden State and Memphis while getting two wins over OKC on their recent 4-game homestand. Boston has dropped three in a row and are mostly just looking towards getting healthy in January of 2022.
Good 2021 for Phoenix
It’s been one of the better calendar years in Phoenix franchise history, taking Milwaukee to six games in the NBA Finals in July and shaking off a long postseason run to start 2021/22 with a 22-7 record that is tied with Golden State for the best in the NBA.
The Suns look destined towards at the very least another Western Conference Finals berth, ranking 3rd in scoring (111.8 ppg) and 4th in points allowed (104.4).
The Suns seem in line for a nice win to wrap up 2021 against a shorthanded Boston squad. Phoenix has won six of their last eight and are well rested after their last game was a 115-97 win over Oklahoma City.
Devin Booker blew up for 38 points vs. the Thunder, his third time with 30+ in the last four games. Deandre Ayton leaves an absence in the middle for Phoenix in health and safety protocols, but JaVale McGee has been solid when pressed into action this year, including 16/8 vs. the Thunder.
Boston Ready for a Calendar Flip
Maybe it’s been a good start to the 2021/22 season for Boston, all things considered. The Celtics are 16-19, which is good enough for 10th in the East despite breaking in a new coach (Ime Udoka) going from Kemba Walker to Dennis Schroder at the PG position, and having to deal with injuries, specifically Jaylen Brown missing 14 games so far this season.
The C’s are right in the midst of health and safety protocols right now (as many NBA teams are) and will be without leading scorer Jayson Tatum (25.6 ppg) for the third straight game.
Tatum isn’t the only player out, as Schroder and Enes Freedom are among seven Boston players in the protocols. On the bright side, Marcus Smart has been upgraded to probable to return vs. Chris Paul and the Suns.
Suns at Celtics Pick
Phoenix could be a bit distracted in this matchup with it being an early 1:00 PM ET Friday afternoon start and with the eagerness of spending NYE in Boston. The Suns are also playing just their second road game since December 16th and making their first trip East since a November 27th visit to Brooklyn.
That being said, the Celtics might just be too shorthanded right now. Brown has been great with 25+ points in four straight games, but Boston is just 1-3 over that span.
Losing a guaranteed 25 points from Tatum hurts Boston here, and the only thing they can hope for in this spot is that the Suns are looking ahead to the nighttime festivities. The Suns should be able to cover the number.