“He’s been good all year, but particularly tonight,” Steve Nash said of Diaw. “He’s playing with guys who are unselfish and move the ball, so he’s able to highlight what he can do.”
The Suns acquired Diaw in an off-season trade with the Atlanta Hawks. The first-round selection by Atlanta in 2003 has posted career highs of 11.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in 45 games—34 starts—for Phoenix. He has averaged 3.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists in seven lifetime games against the Celtics.
Nash’s point production has increased from his 2005 MVP season with a career-high average of 19.2 points. He also continues to lead the league with 11.3 assists per game this season, making him the only player in the league to average more than 10 assists. The 10-year veteran has eclipsed the 20-point mark in 10 of his last 13 games and has averaged 9.8 points and 7.6 assists in 15 lifetime games against the Celtics.
The Suns are the top-scoring team in the NBA with 106.7 points and have seven players averaging 10 or more points in an up-tempo offense. The team scored 110.4 points per game last season to lead the league. The defense is allowing 100.8 points per game, which is an improvement from last season’s NBA-worst 103.3.
Phoenix has gone 3-2 during its current road trip and has lost two of its last three games to Boston.
The Celtics are looking to avoid their first three-game losing streak since Jan. 6-9 and trying to bounce back from a 110-85 rout Monday to the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was the first game between the teams since last week’s major seven-player deal that sent small forward Wally Szczerbiak to the Celtics.
Szczerbiak scored 22 points in the loss, and he is averaging 17.3 points and shooting 48.6 percent from the field in three games since the deal. The Miami of Ohio alumnus is averaging 18 points in 21 lifetime games against the Suns, including a 27-point performance Dec. 26.
Paul Pierce leads the Celtics with 25.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Pierce is 14-for-41 (34.1 percent) from the field his last two games, including 2-for-9 from 3-point range.
The Celtics are averaging an NBA-worst 17.1 turnovers but are fourth in the league with 693 steals, one behind the Suns.