Boston Celtics

Celtics-Suns takeaways: Horford turns back the clock in C's win

The 37-year-old made a season-high six 3-pointers to help Boston take down Phoenix.

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Three Key Storylines

  • The Jays assert their dominance
  • Al Horford turns back the clock
  • Suns can't keep up with C's from 3

The Boston Celtics swept their season series vs. the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night with a thrilling win in front of the TD Garden crowd.

After a sluggish defensive start, the Celtics finished the first quarter on a 17-6 run to pull ahead by three. They relinquished that lead just once before pulling away in the second half, going up by as many as 20 points in their 127-112 victory.

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum led the way for Boston with 37 and 26 points, respectively. Al Horford scored a season-high 24 points in Kristaps Porzingis' absence, and Jrue Holiday just missed a double-double with nine points and 10 assists.

Devin Booker dropped a team-high 23 points for Phoenix in a losing effort. Bradley Beal added 22 while Kevin Durant and Grayson Allen contributed 20 apiece.

The Celtics (52-14) will hit the road again to face the Washington Wizards (11-54) on Sunday night. First, here are three takeaways from Thursday's game.

The Jays assert their dominance

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown took turns lighting up the Suns on Thursday night.

Tatum was the star in the first quarter, going bucket for bucket with Kevin Durant (15 points, 7-8 FG in the first) and dropping 14 points in the frame -- including seven straight.

Brown took center stage in the second quarter, where he erupted for 15 of his 20 first-half points.

Tatum capped off the second quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers. The Jays combined for 43 points on 17-of-24 shooting in the first half.

Tatum and Brown continued to do damage throughout the second half to help the C's pull away. Brown put the exclamation point on the win with a steal followed by an emphatic dunk late in the fourth quarter.

Brown finished with a game-high 37 points on 14-of-23 shooting (5-9 3-PT) to go with five rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Tatum scored 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting (4-8 3-PT) with five rebounds and five assists.

When both Jays are firing on all cylinders, opponents must play perfect basketball to keep pace. Phoenix found that out the hard way on Thursday.

Al Horford turns back the clock

Horford returned to the Celtics' starting lineup after sitting out the second night of Boston's back-to-back on Tuesday. With Porzingis out for the fourth consecutive game, the 37-year-old big man stepped up.

He wasted little time, scoring the C's first five points and totaling eight in the opening quarter. It turns out he was only warming up.

Horford caught fire from beyond the arc, making a season-high six 3-pointers on 10 attempts. That also ties his career-high, which is quite the accomplishment given that he's in the midst of his 17th NBA season.

Horford ended up with a season-high 24 points (8-14 FG), three rebounds, three assists, three steals, and a block. The veteran remains a key contributor at this stage of his career and is at his best when his team needs him most.

As great as Horford was, the C's will hope to get Porzingis back on the court when they visit his former team, the Wizards, on Sunday.

Suns can't keep up with Celtics from 3

The C's are often scrutinized for the number of 3s they put up, but it's the reason they beat the high-powered Suns on Thursday.

The Suns were dominated on the glass for most of the night. In the first half, Phoenix had a 13-1 offensive rebound advantage and 15 second-chance points to Boston's three. The 3s kept the Celtics afloat as they went 12-for-24 from deep through the first two frames (7-11 in the first quarter).

While the rebounding didn't get much better in the second half, the 3s kept falling. Boston finished 25-of-50 from 3, coming just two away from a franchise record. Each starter made at least three 3-pointers with Horford (six) and Brown (five) leading the pack.

That made up for the Suns dominating the boards, 51-33 (19-6 offensive rebounds). The way the 3s were falling for the C's in this one, it didn't matter how much Phoenix dominated the paint.

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