Preview: Celtics at Suns
The trade deadline passed without any blockbuster activity by the Boston Celtics, who were rumored to have star players Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on the block in recent weeks. The Celtics have opened their five-game road trip with two straight losses and they enter Friday's game against the Phoenix Suns with a tenuous hold on the seventh playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.Phoenix faded from postseason contention weeks ago, but the Suns have won four of their last six games against the Celtics. The Suns made two minor deals at the deadline and they appear intent on giving young players such as Wes Johnson and Kendall Marshall more experience down the stretch. Veteran Jermaine O'Neal is coming off one of his best games of the season after scoring 17 points with 12 rebounds in a 108-98 loss to Golden State on Wednesday.TV: 9 p.m. ET, Comcast Sportsnet (Boston), Fox Sports Arizona (Phoenix)ABOUT THE CELTICS (28-26): While Boston didn't move any of its big names, the Celtics did acquire guard Jordan Crawford from Washington for injured guard Leandro Barbosa and reserve center Jason Collins. Crawford was averaging 13.2 points and 3.7 assists for the Wizards, and he should be a solid replacement for Barbosa, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. The Celtics are 8-3 since losing Rondo with a season-ending knee injury, but their struggles on the road have continued this week. Forward Jeff Green, who scored a team-high 14 points against Phoenix last month, has averaged 15.6 points while shooting 52 percent over the last five games.ABOUT THE SUNS (18-37): Phoenix acquired 6-9 small forward Marcus Morris from the Houston Rockets in exchange for a second-round pick and dealt point guard Sebastian Telfair to Toronto for center Hamed Haddadi and a second-rounder. The Houston trade reunites twin brothers Markieff and Marcus Morris as teammates in Phoenix after the two played together in college at Kansas. Marcus was averaging 8.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 54 games with the Rockets, and he's shooting 38 percent shooting from 3-point range. Point guard Goran Dragic, averaging a team-high 14.2 points, has 36 points and 28 assists in his last two games.BUZZER BEATERS1. Phoenix has won nine of the last 14 meetings with the Celtics, including the last two at home.2. Boston is 8-17 on the road, including three straight losses.3. The Suns are 5-9 under interim head coach Lindsey Hunter.PREDICTION: Celtics 91, Suns 86
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