NBA picks: Best bets for Suns vs Celtics
Alex Buck makes his best picks and prediction for Suns vs Celtics tonight. Plus, game preview, injury report & best tips on player props.
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NBA Schedule Today: Friday, February 3rd - Suns @ Celtics
2022-2023 NBA Regular Season Game
Phoenix Suns (27-26, 8-17 Away) vs Boston Celtics (37-15, 20-6 Home)
Date: Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
Venue: TD Garden - Boston, Massachusetts
TV Channel: NBA TV, NBC Sports Boston, Bally Sports AZ
Live Stream: fuboTV
Live Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub, ESPN 620 / S: KSUN
The Suns begin a 5-game road trip on Friday when they take on the red-hot Celtics at TD Garden. Led by Jayson Tatum, Boston holds the top seed in the Eastern Conference, while Phoenix sits in 7th in the Western Conference.
Suns vs Celtics Odds, Spread Moneyline, Over/Under - NBA Betting Lines 2/3
Moneyline: Phoenix Suns +360, Boston Celtics -450
Spread: Phoenix Suns +10 (-115), Boston Celtics -10 (-105)
Total: Over/Under 221.5 Points (-110)
Suns vs Celtics Preview
The Boston Celtics, holding the top seed in the Eastern Conference, will face the Phoenix Suns on Friday night at TD Garden. The Celtics, coming off a dominant victory against the Brooklyn Nets on February 1st, where Jayson Tatum scored 31 points and contributed 9 rebounds and 4 assists in just 29 minutes of play, will look to continue their impressive season.
The Boston Celtics was on a nine-game winning streak in January, but then suffered three consecutive losses. They bounced back with victories against the Lakers in overtime and the Nets on Wednesday and are now once again among the top favorites for the Eastern Conference championship. With a win against the Suns on Friday night, they'll maintain a lead of at least two games over the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Suns have been showing improvement lately, winning 6 of their last 8 games. The return of Devin Booker in the coming days will boost the team's morale. However, only one of their victories was against a playoff-contending team - the Memphis Grizzlies. The other 5 wins were against teams ranked 11th or lower in their respective conferences.
Friday's game between the Phoenix Suns and the Boston Celtics will be a true test for the Suns as they take on the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. This will serve as a gauge of their progress this season, despite not having Devin Booker available. Their last encounter on December 8th saw the Celtics secure a 125-98 victory, with Phoenix's starting five struggling to contribute offensively. Josh Okogie led the Suns' scoring efforts off the bench with 28 points, while Devin Booker posted 17 points with an uncharacteristic shooting performance, and Chris Paul managed only 4 points.
The Boston Celtics is a formidable offensive force, renowned for their ability to score points. They lead the league in free throw accuracy and rank second in overall points per game. With the talent of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, as well as a deep pool of perimeter shooters, the Celtics also take more three-pointers per game than the Phoenix Suns.
However, despite the Celtics' high number of three-point attempts, the Suns boast a better accuracy from beyond the arc. The Celtics tend to permit a high volume of three-point shots, whereas the Suns defend against them effectively.
Phoenix ranks number one in the NBA in three-point attempts allowed per game. They let up just 31.2 per game, but the Celtics are not far behind, allowing 32.9 with two of the best wing defenders in the NBA in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Boston is doing all the important things well in the 2022-2023 season. They are ranked number one in free throw shooting percentage while also allowing the least free throws defensively in the NBA. They don’t give up cheap fouls and they’re extremely efficient defensively, ranking third in defensive rebounds and fifth in blocks.
With Devin Booker not quite ready to return from the groin injury that has seen him sidelined for five weeks, who is going to step up for the Suns to generate points against a stubborn Boston Celtics defense? Deandre Ayton leads the team in scoring with Booker out, contributing 17.8 points per game, and Mikal Bridges will have his hands full, dealing with Jayson Tatum on both ends of the floor.
Suns vs Celtics Injury Report
Devin Booker's injury status remains a hot topic, as he hasn't played since December 26th due to a groin strain. He is expected to return soon, potentially for the Suns' game against the Brooklyn Nets early next week.
Marcus Smart will not play for the Celtics, but Jayson Tatum, despite a nagging wrist injury, is not listed on the injury report and will play in Friday's game against the Suns.
Meanwhile, the Suns will be without not only Booker but also Cameron Payne, Landry Shamet, and Jae Crowder for the match in Boston.
Suns vs Celtics Prediction and Picks
The spread is a tough call. Boston hasn’t been covering well lately at all, with the win over the Brooklyn Nets being the first time they’ve covered the spread in their last seven outings. They’ve been to overtime twice in their last three against the Lakers and the Knicks, two games in which they were favored by at least eight points.
The Suns are scoring 112.8 points per game in their last ten, while the Celtics have put up 116.2 in the same time frame. That said, Mikal Bridges is a vital scoring outlet for Phoenix with Devin Booker and Cameron Payne out. He has led the team in scoring in the Suns last two games and shooting 40% from three in the month of January.
However, in their previous encounter, the Celtics successfully shut down Bridges. He managed just 2-of-12 shooting and went 0-for-5 from beyond the arc, contributing to the Suns' offensive struggles.
The 10-point spread is significant, but the match-up favors the Celtics' defense against a depleted Suns team that will improve soon, but not in time for Friday night's game.
The Pick: Boston Celtics -10 (-105)
Boston got off to a hot start against the Brooklyn Nets, and it may take a while for the Suns to find their feet offensively against a tough defensive opponent. Boston is averaging 33.2 points in the first quarter this season, and scored 46 in the first quarter against the Nets on Wednesday night.
I’ll take the Celtics to cover the points total in the first quarter.
Best Suns vs Celtics Player Prop Bets Today: Friday, February 3rdMikal Bridges
I’d imagine the Celtics are going to allocate plenty of focus to Mikal Bridges defensively, with the small forward being one of the Suns most effective scoring outlets right now. Bridges was kept quiet in the first meeting between these two teams, and without the threat of Devin Booker, things aren’t going to get any easier for Bridges against the Celtics.
I’m predicting that Bridges will have a difficult time scoring points, therefore I’m taking his under.
The Pick: Mikal Bridges Under 18.5 Points (-125)
The Suns have a solid defense against small forwards, with Bridges being one of the league's best wing defenders and the team ranking first in the NBA in points allowed against the SF position, averaging 19.7 per game.
Tatum has been on fire lately, scoring at least 30 points in six of his last seven games. However, the Suns' defense may prove to be a challenge for him. To limit Tatum's impact, limiting his trips to the free throw line will be crucial. Despite Tatum's recent hot streak, I predict that he will come in under his point spread in tonight's game.
The Pick: Jayson Tatum Under 30.5 Points (-115)
Deandre Ayton has been on a more consistent form of scoring in recent weeks, clearing 20 points in four of his last four games. With the Celtics providing such good defense on the wings, Ayton could be a large part of the game plan this time around.
His 20.5 total of combined points and assists seems like good value to me tonight. The Celtics are no slouch in the paint but do allow just over 20 points per game against the position. The Suns will need to go to Ayton and rely on him to put points on the board to compete with the Celtics on the road, so here’s me backing him to pull that off, with a couple of assists helping to bolster his total.
Torrey Craig may see a few extra opportunities if Mikal Bridges is tightly guarded by the Celtics starters, but I doubt he'll have a high-scoring night on the road against a strong Boston defense.
Craig's name has been circulating in potential trade talks, and the Suns may make a move if they receive a desirable offer. Although Craig's January average was 7.2 points per game, much of it was due to three big games of 16, 17, and 20 points. In the other 11 games in January, he only surpassed 8 points once.
With an average of 27 minutes played in January, Craig can be unpredictable in terms of his scoring production. In his three top-scoring games in January, Craig hit at least two 3-pointers and shot 50% from deep, but I don't see those numbers being replicated against Boston's defense.
The Pick: Torrey Craig Under 7.5 Points (-115)