PHOENIX — The Boston Celtics take on the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, the third contest in their five-game road trip.
Here are five pre-game notes from availability.
1. The Celtics will start their normal opening lineup, with Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and Kyrie Irving.
Hayward missed one back end of a back-to-back earlier this year, but he told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps if he would miss one of the next two games, it wouldn’t be his return to Utah. The Celtics play the Jazz on Friday.
Gordon Hayward will play tonight against the Phoenix Suns. Unless he has a physical setback during tonight’s game, he also will play tomorrow in Utah. Hayward told me earlier this week if he could only play one of them, there was no way he’d miss the Utah game.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) November 9, 2018
2. Brad Stevens was asked about Deandre Ayton — the Suns’ rookie big man who was picked No. 1 overall.
“Special talent, skilled, knows how to play, he’s huge in there,” Stevens said. “He’s great rolling and ducking in, above the rim, but can also pass, skilled from the perimeter, a heck of a player. As you assume the first pick would be.”
3. Stevens said the break was good for the Celtics to rest.
Second-biggest: The opportunity to examine how to play a 48-minute game.
“We’ve played well, but in a lot of cases haven’t come close to playing a 48-minute game,” Stevens sad. “We’ve been against two really good teams back-to-back, three including Milwaukee, where the most we’ve hit is in the high thirties, so our intent, focus, desire is to be a lot more complete moving forward.”
4. Phoenix coach Igor Kokoskov joked before the game that former Milwaukee Bucks coach Joe Prunty — an assistant on his staff — gave him all the tips to beat the Celtics. Prunty coached the Bucks last season when they pushed Boston to seven games.
5. Terry Rozier often plays 1-on-1 with Celtics assistant coach Jerome Allen pre-game for a point or two. Today, Rozier had Allen locked up, but Allen lofted a mid-range jumper over Rozier and through the net.
These are the type of pre-game notes you get five days into a nine-day road trip.
The Celtics and Suns tip off at 9 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Boston.