The final game of 2021 for the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns will take place on Friday afternoon in Boston. This Phoenix Suns vs. Boston Celtics matchup is one between two teams expected to make the playoffs. But both teams are dealing with some notable absences due to COVID protocols, which will make this game a fascinating one before the opening tip off, as well as once the game is actually going on.
Phoenix is the favorite entering this matchup, as they have the second best record in the NBA coming into the final day of 2021. But the Celtics are a much better team at home than they are on the road, and they will look to push the Suns in this matchup. At the end of the day, it will be the team that is best able to overcome their absences that could come away with the win and the cover in this one.
Phoenix Suns – Hurting At Center
The Phoenix Suns broke a two-game losing streak in their last game, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder to erase the bad taste from their losses to Memphis and Golden State. Now, the Suns go on the road after four straight home games, as they face the Celtics in Boston. And the Suns have some COVID-19 related absences to deal with if they are going to pick up a win in their return to the road.
Two starters will be out of this game for the Suns, as DeAndre Ayton and Jae Crowder will miss this game in the league’s health and safety protocols. Phoenix will also be without its backup center in JaVale McGee, who is also in health and safety protocols, leaving them without their top two centers. Phoenix will hope that Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges will be enough to make up for their lack of bigs.
Expected Line-Up: Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jalen Smith
with best odds
Boston Celtics – Slowly Getting Healthier
The Boston Celtics have lost three straight games, including their last game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Boston shot an unfathomably bad 4/42 from three-point range in their loss to the Clippers, a game in which the Celtics scored just 82 points. In this game, the Celtics will look to get back on track, but will have to do so without arguably their best player in Jayson Tatum, who is out in the league’s COVID protocols.
Boston is also set to be without Dennis Schroder and Enes Freedom, both of whom are also in COVID protocols. But the Celtics are still reasonably healthy, missing just one starter at this point in time in Tatum. If Jaylen Brown can make up for some of the lost production from Tatum’s absence, the Celtics might still be in good shape in this game, especially with a real edge in the frontcourt.
Expected Line-Up: Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Romeo Langford, Al Horford, Robert Williams III
Expert Pick #1 – Celtics +3.5 @ -110
The first bet to place on this game is the Celtics +3.5 at -110 odds. Boston is a solid team at home, and they are mostly unscathed with the exception of the loss of Tatum. Against a Suns team that is decimated at the center position, the combination of Horford and Williams should be a difference maker for Boston. As long as Jaylen Brown is serviceable, the Celtics should succeed here.
Expert Pick #2 – Celtics to Win @ +135
Our next bet for this matchup is the Celtics to win at +135 odds. This moneyline play has a lot to do with the fact that the Celtics have players like Romeo Langford back from COVID protocols. Even with Tatum out, the depth of the Celtics is better than it was recently when the Celtics were without multiple bigs and guards.
Expert Pick #3 – Marcus Smart Over 1.5 Threes @ +105
The final bet to place on this game is Marcus Smart over 1.5 threes made at +105 odds. Smart is going to have to be aggressive on offense with Tatum out, and Smart should get some looks from the perimeter for a couple of reason. First, the Suns are going to have to crash the paint as a team to make up for their big absences. Second, the Celtics just don’t have that many guard options beyond Brown and Smart from the outside in this game.
This game will be a great way to close out 2021 in the NBA, and the Boston Celtics should be able to pick up a big win here. Phoenix is just too unhealthy at the moment, and the recently recovered Celtics should be able to take advantage of that, possibly with an outright win.