Celtics face questions with Suns coming to town


Apr 19, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) drives to the basket against Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) during the first half at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a two-day break, the Boston Celtics have plenty of question marks in play as they get set to host the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

Five players were listed on the Celtics’ injury report Wednesday, the most notable being swingman Jaylen Brown as doubtful with left shoulder bursitis. Fellow All-Star Jayson Tatum is questionable with left ankle impingement but said he believes he’ll play.

Evan Fournier (health and safety) and Robert Williams III (left knee soreness) each remain out, and guards Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker are expected to return from missing the team’s loss Monday with non-COVID illnesses. Smart practiced Wednesday while the hope is Walker, listed as probable, suits up after an extra day of rest.

Boston (31-27) enters Thursday having won eight of its last 10 games to reinsert itself in the conversation for a top-four playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Coach Brad Stevens is crossing his fingers that he’ll get his club healthy as it enters the final month.

“We’re hopeful at some point, here in the next 14 games, we can have everybody on the roster available,” Stevens said.

The Suns (42-16), meanwhile, are firing on all cylinders, having won 13 of their past 15 games to nip the heels of the Utah Jazz for the best record in the NBA. Phoenix extended its run of success with a 116-113 road victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.

Chris Paul led with 28 points in the contest, and Devin Booker scored eight of his 19 points in the final 2:03 to help seal the result.

“That’s winning basketball,” Paul said of Booker’s play. “When you get your opportunity … that’s why Book is who he is. He made the timely shots.”

The win improved the Suns to an NBA-best 19-7 on the road this season.

Phoenix and Boston faced off earlier on Feb. 7, with the Suns coming away with a 100-91 victory on their home court. The Celtics rallied from down 17 to get within three with 1:04 left before ultimately falling short.

Boston similarly came up empty against the Chicago Bulls on Monday. Down eight to begin the fourth quarter, the Celtics battled back to tie the game with 3:25 remaining before fading down the stretch of a 102-96 loss.

“It was a tough night,” said Tatum, who finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in his first career triple-double despite 3-for-17 shooting.

Having a tough night for the Suns on Wednesday was forward Jae Crowder, who sustained a right ankle sprain in the victory over the 76ers. Crowder, a former Celtic, is listed as day-to-day.

Phoenix has three games remaining on its East Coast swing, which it has started with two straight victories. The team will play another back-to-back Sunday and Monday against the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks, respectively.

Boston will be back on the court Friday night against the Nets in Brooklyn.

–Field Level Media

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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