<
>

Pregame: Hornacek says C's play hard

PHOENIX -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens took what was probably just an unintentional dramatic pause when asked before Wednesday's game against the Phoenix Suns if everybody on his roster was available.

At a time of year when players are sometimes held out to prevent injuries that could derail a pending trade, Stevens soon detailed how the only players out were Avery Bradley (ankle) and Vitor Faverani (knee), neither of whom made the trip west with the team. The other 11 healthy bodies with Boston on this trip are available.

Gerald Wallace gets another start in place of Bradley, playing alongside Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger.

Asked for his take on Boston's overhauled roster, Suns first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek noted, "I think they are a typical Boston team. They are going to play hard. They are similar to us in that they have a lot of young guys that have gotten an opportunity to play and they are making the most of it. They have some guys that are playing well and now Rondo is back playing. It's going to be a tough battle for us. These guys are going to play hard and they are going to make everything tough on us. I think tonight, we usually have the advantage maybe with the effort level against teams. Tonight, will be an even game there because they do play hard. It will come down to execution and who makes those stops."

Stevens volleyed that praise back at Hornacek and the overachieving Suns.

"They've done a great job of putting their best foot with their skill," said Stevens. "They play nine people with their rotation, sometimes [rookie Alex] Len becomes the 10th, but of those nine, seven shoot it great and the other two [Plumlee and Ish Smith] are dynamite to the rim. ... They spread you, they especially spread your bigs. They have multiple times in games where they play Markieff [Morris] or Channing [Frye] together at the 4-5 or Marcus [Morris] and Channing together and now you have two guys that shoot behind the 3 that bigs aren't used to getting out to. It really puts you in a tough spot. Then they complement each other so well. What makes that all go really well, in my opinion, is those threats at the rim."

The Suns have a few familiar faces in their locker room, including Gerald Green (now starting and blossoming in Phoenix), Leandro Barbosa (thriving as a backup after tearing his ACL in Boston last season), and Dionte Christmas (the former summer league sensation).