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Houston Rockets vs Boston Celtics: First matchup preview

Photo by Steve Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Steve Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

With both the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets making moves this offseason, how do they stack up against each other?

Every team in the NBA understands the aura that surrounds the Boston Celtics franchise. When your team has 17 banners hanging in the rafters, its hard not to marvel at such feature. However, this current Houston Rockets squad doesn’t care about Celtic legends. That’s because the Rockets are chasing a title every bit as much as Boston is.

While these teams will only play each other twice, this has the potential to be a finals preview. Both teams made huge additions in the offseason. The Celtics added Gordon Hayward and traded for Kyrie Irving. On the other side, the Houston Rockets traded for Chris Paul and added some solid bench support. The narrative is set for a great two game series. CP3 vs. Kyrie. James Harden vs. Gordon Hayward. Oh boy!

With that in mind, lets take a look at the matchups and determine who has the advantage.

Houston Rockets projected starting lineup

PG: Chris Paul

SG: James Harden

SF: Trevor Ariza

PF: Ryan Anderson

C: Clint Capela

Boston Celtics projected starting lineup

PG: Kyrie Irving

SG: Marcus Smart

SF: Gordon Hayward

PF: Marcus Morris

C: Al Horford


Both teams have great starting lineups here. However, aside from the guards, these matchups will probably be won in the front court and by the better bench. Let’s begin with the starters.

While both teams have at least two stars, it’s the players around the stars that makes this matchup fun. The backcourt will certainly duel it out. CP3 is a great two-way player, while Kyrie is unbelievable on the offensive end. Due to lack of defensive effort on Kyrie’s part, CP3 has the slight edge in the point guard department. The same could be said about Harden on defense, but Marcus Smart is inconsistent on offense. Therefore, slight advantage Harden.

With that in mind:

Backcourt Advantage: Houston, by a slim margin

As mentioned before, these games will probably be won in the frontcourt. Both teams have capable shooters and capable defenders. Rebounding will be key. Al Horford is great around the rim and so is Clint Capela. Where Horford gains the advantage is in his ability to stretch the floor. He can shoot midrange and is a decent 3-point shooter, making 35.5 percent from downtown last season. So the center advantage goes to Boston.

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At the forwards, Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza have their work cut out for them as well. Both Anderson and Morris can shoot and stretch the floor. Morris is probably the better rebounder, but Anderson is better offensively, but not by much. Ariza and Hayward will be fun to watch. Ariza is Houston’s best wing defender and a good 3-point shooter. However, Hayward is great offensively and not too shabby on defense himself. Slight edge, Hayward.

Frontcourt advantage: Even, with a slight lean towards Boston

Let’s continue on to the benches.

Rockets main bench unit

CP3/Harden, Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, Luc Mbah a Moute, Nene Hilario

Celtics main bench unit

Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Aron Baynes 


While the Rockets made some great bench additions, the Celtics had to give up a bit to add Irving and Hayward. The Rockets also have more experience on their bench that could make the difference.

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Here is why Houston has the bench advantage.

While Rozier and Smart are great defenders and hustle all game, Houston will have a top 5 ball handler at all times with the reigning sixth man of the year, and some of the peskiest perimeter defenders in the NBA. Nene is a physical presence inside, who can score in the paint and midrange, and he rebounds well. Both Tucker and Mbah a Moute can shoot 3’s and are bigger than Brown and Tatum. No doubt, Jason Tatum will be a fantastic player in this league. But he will learn how hard it is to succeed as a rookie in these matchups. The Rockets bench will frustrate the young Celtic bench and force the starters to play longer.

Bottom line is, the Rockets possess depth, scoring, and physical defense that Boston doesn’t quite have yet. No disrespect to Jaylen Brown or Jason Tatum, but they are still growing up in this league.

Bench Advantage: Houston

Both teams are well coached. Brad Stevens has been spectacular in Boston, while Mike D’Antoni has helped the Rockets become a scoring machine. Both are balanced teams with some heavy firepower. It is safe to say both coaches are well established in their respective cities.

Season Series Predictions

The Rockets and Celtics will faceoff twice this season. Ultimately, both games will come down to home court advantage in my opinion. Expect two thrilling, physical, and close games.

The first matchup between these two teams will be on December 28th at the TD Garden. Boston wins at home, but the Rockets will win the return game in Houston.

Next: Houston Rockets full team NBA 2K18 ratings

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