Tip: 8:30pm Court: Toyota Center Watch it: CSN Hear it: WEEI
Refs: Jason Phillips, Johnn Goble, Josh Tiven
|Record: 48-18 (1st Atlantic, 2nd East)||Record: 35-34 (5th Southwest, 10th West)|
|On the Road: 19-12||At Home: 19-14|
|Streak: Won 1||Streak: Won 2|
|Buckets: Pierce (18.8 ppg)||Buckets: Kevin Martin (22.8 ppg)|
|Boards: KG (9.1 rpg)||Boards: Luis Scola (8.1 rpg)|
|Dimes: Rondo (11.7 apg)||Dimes: Kyle Lowry (6.4 apg)|
|For the Stat Geeks||For the Stat Geeks|
|Offensive Rating: 107.0 (16th NBA)||Offensive Rating: 111.0 (4th NBA)|
|Defensive Rating: 99.8 (2nd NBA)||Defensive Rating: 109.5 (21st NBA)|
|Pace: 90.8 (21st NBA)||Pace: 94.2 (8th NBA)|
I called it the worst loss of the season (at that point, anyway) when the C's dropped a 108-102 game to the Rockets at home. At that point, the C's were still without KG (after the scare in Detroit that turned out to be a calf strain) but the Rockets were without Kevin Martin and they still out played the C's in just about every facet of the game. Ugh… horrible memories.
Get it to: Paul Pierce
Who's playing better than The Truth right now? He's making good decisions with the ball (mostly) and he's still an efficient (advanced analytics buzzword…drink!) scoring machine. Keep feeding him.
Gotta stop: Kevin Martin
Sometimes the obvious choice is… well… obvious. The Rockets are 6-15 in games in which Martin scores less than 20 points. 28-18 when he scores 20 or more. 10-5 in games where he scores 30 or more.
It won't be easy. He's 4th among shooting guards in True Shooting% (a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account 2's 3's and FT's. Martin is at 60.3… right behind Ray Allen's 62.4). He's 4th among SG's in PER as well, just behind Kobe Bryant and just ahead of Manu Ginobili. BUT… few players dominate the ball quite like he does. So if the C's can bother his shots and keep him cold for a while… he'll just keep shooting.
Wild Card: Luis Scola
He's missed four games with a sore left knee. If he can't go tonight, then the C's dodge a bullet because he's an active power forward who can score, rebound and defend. If he's rusty, the C's will at least have a little bit of an advantage. But if he's rarin' to go, then the C's have to hope Nenad Krstic has figured out his defensive rotations because that's one more person you'll have to keep off the boards. Houston is one of the better rebounding teams out there, so the C's will have to keep it tight on the boards if they want to win this.
How we see it goin' down:
The Rockets love to score the ball. They're 3rd overall in scoring, 8th overall in pace, and they're just out of the top 10 in effective FG% (a stat adjusted to include 3's) So they'll run, they'll score, and they'll do it with some amount of precision. But they'll also give up about the same numbers… so like most high-scoring, fast-paced teams, the Rockets will try to lure you into an up and down game.
Amazingly, this is the type of thing that might actually help the Celtics. Their half court offense has flat out sucked lately. But when they got stops and got out on the break a little against Indy, their offense came to life. There's less thinking and more reacting and doing in the faster paced game… which is kinda what the C's need right now.
So look for the C's to actually keep pace with the Rockets. If they can bother Kevin Martin and get him to shoot a lower percentage… AND… keep Houston off the boards… then the C's can match some of that up and down. Then when the subs come in, it will be Jeff Green's style of play. I would almost make him "wild card #2" in this one because he likes to run and finish… and he'll get that chance tonight.
I see the C's winning a high-scoring affair 110-102.