BOSTON – The Boston Celtics could not have scripted a better start to Friday night’s game against Phoenix.
Phoenix, a young, scrappy team – actually, the youngest starting five in NBA history – found themselves looking up at a 22-3 deficit to start the game, with Boston’s lead peaking at 26 points.
Phoenix, courtesy of a career night from Devin Booker, were able to chip away at Boston’s lead but the Celtics’ control of the game was never in question before they finally put the Suns away for a 130-120 win.
- Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win
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- Crowder and Booker exchange Instagram barbs following 70-point game
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- Booker on 70 points vs. Celtics: 'I wouldn't have been able to do it without my teammates'
Boston (47-26) has won three straight, and six of their last seven games. In addition, the Celtics remain 1.0 game behind Cleveland (47-24) which defeated Charlotte 112-105 on Friday.
But the story of the game was Booker who finished with a career-high 70 points, the most scored ever at the TD Garden.
He was that good, folks.
The rest of his teammates?
Non-factors in every sense of the word, showing the kind of youth and inexperience you would expect from a team full of players in their late-teens, early 20's.
Boston’s Isaiah Thomas had a strong night as well, finishing with 34 points and seven assists. Al Horford flirted with a triple-double before finishing with 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Gerald Green gave Boston a nice lift off the bench, scoring all 15 of his points in the first half.
But the man who had most in the TD Garden oohing was Booker who had 40 points after just three quarters of play.
Of course, one of the keys to Booker’s big-time scoring night was the absence of Boston’s Avery Bradley (sick) who missed his 24th game of the season.
Even with him scoring at will, the game should have never been just a 10-point affair (124-114) with a minute to play, especially when you consider who the Celtics were playing and what that team’s focus has been on recently.
Unlike some of the teams they face that have sub-.500 records, the Suns are doing all they can to be competitive but not competitive enough to win.
That’s why you see players like Eric Bledsoe (a borderline All-Star), Tyson Chandler (a former league Defensive Player of the Year) and Brandon Knight (borderline starter/solid rotation player) all not play due to … rest?
Rest is what you do when you are trying to preserve your body for the playoffs?
When you’re 22-50, resting good players is as clear a sign as any that you are trying to gather as many ping-pong balls in hopes of landing one of the top picks in June’s NBA draft.
So with that backdrop, it’s not surprising that the Celtics opened the game with a blistering 22-3 run.
The Suns had nothing to gain by being competitive, while the Celtics still have their eye on claiming the top seed in the East or better solidifying their position as the No. 2 seed.
The Celtics have been saying for weeks that they are maturing into a team that can take care of business against all comers.
It certainly looked that way early on, only to give way in the second half to them reverting back to the playing with little passion and little to no force which gave the Bookers – I mean, the Suns – a tremendous jolt of confidence.