You have to sympathize with Phoenix Suns fans to a certain extent.
For the second time this year, the Footprint Center hosted a major game that went offline on Wednesday. The first came during Game 7 of last season’s Western Conference Semifinals, in which the Dallas Mavericks swept the Phoenix 123–90.
This time it was the Boston Celtics in a 125-98 lucky hand after Chris Paul returned with a heel injury. The game, televised nationally on ESPN, was supposed to be a battle of the best teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences, with the Celtics leading the NBA 20-5 and the Suns 16-8.
Instead, it was like the Celtics were facing a tank team.
The game was competitive until about the middle of the first quarter, when Boston broke the series 18–3. From there it only got worse. By the end of the first quarter, the Celtics were leading by 10 points. By the break they were leading by 27 points. At their peak in the third quarter, they scored an unfathomable 45 points.
Like the rest of the season, the Celtics hardly looked like a team going through an NBA Finals loss and one of the most tumultuous offseasons in the league.
It doesn’t look like it was Jason Tatum’s supernova (although there have been a lot of them this season). Tatum and his co-star Jaylen Brown scored a respectable 25 points.
The true source of the Celtics’ success was the perfect night for their role players, pretty much across the board. Grant Williams scored 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting with no losses. Blake Griffin, still starting for the injured Robert Williams III, narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds. Shooter Malcolm Brogdon was 7 out of 9 with 16 points and five assists.
Marcus Smart and Derrick White weren’t as prolific on offense, but their defense made the night unbearable for Devin Booker (6 of 17 from the field) and Paul (2 of 6 with four losses).
This is basically what the Celtics have been doing all season under interim head coach Joe Mazzulla as they have now won 11 double-digit games. In the meantime, the Suns might have something to think about.