Celtics-Suns: The meeting of NBA's top East and West teams was a hilarious beatdown

Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams drives past Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
ESPN thought it had a clash of top NBA teams. It got another Celtics beatdown instead. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

You have to feel for the Phoenix Suns crowd, to a certain extent.

For the second time this year, the Footprint Center was the site of a marquee game turned unwatchable beatdown on Wednesday. The first came during last season's Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals, in which the Dallas Mavericks blew the doors off Phoenix 123-90.

This time, it was the Boston Celtics on the happy end of a 125-98 blowout in Chris Paul's return from a heel injury. The game, nationally televised on ESPN, was supposed to be a battle of the top teams in the Eastern and Western Conference, with the Celtics tops in the NBA at 20-5 and the Suns at 16-8.

Instead, it was like the Celtics were facing a tanking team.

The game was competitive until about halfway through the first quarter, when Boston broke off an 18-3 run. It only got worse from there. By the end of the first quarter, the Celtics were leading by 10. By halftime, they were leading by 27. At their peak in the third quarter, they were up an incomprehensible 45 points.

As they have all season, the Celtics hardly looked like a team smarting from an NBA Finals loss and one of the league's most turbulent offseasons.

It wasn't like this was a Jayson Tatum supernova game either (though there have been plenty of those this season). Tatum and his co-star Jaylen Brown both had a perfectly respectable 25 points.

The true source of the Celtics' success was a perfect night for their role players, pretty much across the board. Grant Williams had 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting with no turnovers. Blake Griffin, still starting for the injured Robert Williams III, nearly had a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds. Sharpshooter Malcolm Brogdon was 7-of-9 for 16 points and five assists.

Marcus Smart and Derrick White weren't as offensively prolific, but their defense made the night miserable for Devin Booker (6-of-17 from the field) and Paul (2-of-6 with four turnovers).

This is basically what the Celtics have done all season under interim head coach Joe Mazzulla, as they have now won 11 games by double-digits. Meanwhile, the Suns might have some thinking to do.