The Boston Celtics head into Houston coming off a 121-114 overtime win against the 76ers. They have won seven of their last team and are 20-13 on the season. Boston looks to continue their push towards the top in the Atlantic Division.
After a slow start this season, the Rockets are 7-3 over their last ten and are 18-15 overall. After a 41-point performance against Oklahoma City on Tuesday by James Harden, the Rockets are leading the Southwest Division by half a game over the San Antonio Spurs.
The Celtics rank 13th in scoring and fourth in fewest points allowed. Solid in all phases of the game, they are also 11th in rebounding and fifth in fewest turnovers committed. ON the flip side, the Rockets rank near by bottom on rebounding and are 17th in turnovers and 19th in scoring, while a solid 11th in rebounding.
Boston can attack an opponent in a variety of ways, led by Kyrie Irving’s 22.7 points per game. Jayson Tatum adds nearly 17 per contest, while Marcus Morris contributes 14.8. If the inside game is not working, all three are hitting over 40 percent from three-point range. Veteran Al Horford, Morris and Tatum all average over six rebounds per game.
Clearly, the Rockets fortunes often fall on the shoulders of Harden, who is averaging a league best 32 points per game. Not only a scorer, the MVP candidate hauls in nearly six per game, while dishing out 8.4 assists. Clint Capela is the main man on the boards, averaging 12 rebounds to go along with 17 per game. Veteran Chris Paul teams up with Harden in the back court, averaging 15.6 points and eight assists. While not a top scorer, the Celtics will need to watch PJ Tucker from long range, where he is hitting 41 percent for the season.
The teams have split the last six meetings over the past few seasons. Boston is one of the better road teams in the NBA at 9-8, while the Rockets are 11-5 at home. Likely a narrow home favorite, look for a high scoring, close game into the fourth quarter. Then Harden will take over the game and the Rockets will pull away late.