Both teams made the playoffs last season, but Phoenix finds itself in last place in the competitive Pacific Division while Boston is below .500 into December for the first time since 2000.
The Suns are hoping to have some better success on the road than they have at home lately. Coming off a 1-3 homestand, Phoenix is opening a road trip that includes four games in five nights.
“Certainly I’m disappointed as far as what we’ve been able to do, or what we have not been able to do,” coach Frank Johnson said. “But it’s something I feel we can still fight our way out of. Maybe we’ll use the road to get it back and build our confidence.”
The Suns’ four opponents on the trip—Boston, New Jersey, Orlando and Miami—are a combined 32 games under .500.
While Phoenix has shot just 39 percent from the field the last three games, Boston is holding opponents to an Eastern Conference-low 40.6 percent.
The Celtics, however, could do little to stop Wednesday’s long-range barrage by the Toronto Raptors, who made a team-record 17 3-pointers in a 105-95 win over Boston.
“They shot the lights out. I really thought defensively, we played well for the most part of the game,” Celtics guard Paul Pierce said. “I thought we challenged a lot of their 3-point shots. Every shot they took seemed to go in.”
Phoenix could use a boost from reigning Rookie of the Year Amare Stoudemire, who has averaged just 10.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in the last four games while shooting 37.8 percent.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 3): Suns - 7th place, 7 1/2 GB, Pacific Division. Celtics - 2nd place (tied), 1 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Suns - Marbury, 19.3 ppg and 8.4 apg; Stoudemire, 9.1 rpg. Celtics - Pierce, 22.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg and 5.7 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Suns, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 16; Suns, 102-92. At Phoenix, Stoudemire had 25 points and 17 rebounds while Marbury scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Suns - 1-4 on the road; Celtics - 4-5 at home.