Suns bring three-game win streak to Boston to face Celtics

By Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange

BOSTON -- If you checked the NBA standings before Tuesday night's results, you saw three teams with winning streaks of longer than three games.

The Indiana Pacers had won seven straight, the Brooklyn Nets five and the Houston Rockets four.


After that, it was the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns, tied at three.

The Suns?

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Yes, a team that had been 4-22 through 26 games, a team rumored to be leaving Phoenix for Seattle in an arena dispute -- a report shot down by the owner, for now, anyway -- had won three games in a row to get to 7-22.

Small steps.

"We're building," Devin Booker said after his 38 points led the Suns to a Monday win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. "We're getting better every game."


And moving from one Garden to the other, the Suns are in Boston on Wednesday night to face the Celtics, who saw their eight-game winning streak snapped Saturday night at Detroit.

The Suns swung a trade the other day. In a deal that was tied up as a three way when the Memphis Grizzlies balked about the wrong Brooks being in the trade, Phoenix moved big offseason pickup Trevor Ariza to Washington for Austin Rivers and Kelly Oubre in a two-team transaction.

Rivers was promptly bought out. Both sides agreeed that he was a veteran who could help a winning team more than one that's building, and he wound up in Memphis. Oubre, who scored 20 points against the Celtics just last week, was slated to make his Suns debut Wednesday.

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Both Oubre and Booker have a past with the Celtics.

Oubre has played 13 career regular-season games against Boston and was also suspended for a game in the 2017 playoff series between the teams. Booker, on the other hand, scored 70 points at TD Garden in a performance slightly tainted by the Suns, losing the game, doing things to get him extra points.


In six career games against the Celtics, Booker, who had 38 against them Nov. 8, is averaging 32.0 points (easily his high against any team), 4.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists per games.

The Celtics rallied from 22 points down, got a 3-pointer from Marcus Morris with 1.1 seconds left in regulation and beat the Suns in overtime on Nov. 8. But that was Boston's only win on a five-game road trip and the Celtics were at 10-10 before reeling off eight straight wins.

On Saturday night, they saw nemesis Andre Drummond grab 20 rebounds and scored 19 points in the Pistons' win.

So, at 18-11, the Celtics, who have had injury troubles, are still looking for consistency -- and no one has been looking harder than Gordon Hayward, who missed all but about five minutes of last season with a horrific leg injury.

"Getting healthy and being healthy is the first thing you have to worry about," Hayward said after Saturday's loss. "When you're not healthy, you can't do the things you want on the court. That's the hurdle I want to go over first, and then I can try to figure everything else out."


Jamal Crawford, known throughout his career, posted a career-high 14 assists in the Suns' win Monday night. Booker scored 38 in his second game back from missing six games with an injury.

"I think especially for me, I'm known as such a scorer, and I can score -- like, I really can score -- but sometimes the defense thinks that, too, and they fall asleep and I see guys," Crawford said.

The Celtics have defeated the Suns each of the last three seasons at TD Garden.

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