Houston Rockets vs Celtics Preview: Ending a Three Game Skid

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

The Houston Rockets prepare to end a three-game skid against Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics.

While millions across the world celebrated Christmas, it wasn’t a holly jolly day for the Houston Rockets. After dropping a questionable games to the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, the Rockets (25-7) dropped their third game in a row, losing the Christmas day match-up 112-107 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In an effort to bounce back to their winning ways, the Rockets find themselves in Bean Town, taking on the Eastern Conference’s top seed, Boston Celtics (28-10) at TD Garden. If the Celtics and Rockets continue their reigns over their respective conference, this could be a preview of this season’s NBA Finals. That is, if they can overcome the Cavaliers and Warriors, which will be tough.

Russell Westbrook and James Harden both put up big performances against each other in the #NBAXmas thriller in OKC! pic.twitter.com/jNK0RvSyjl

— NBA (@NBA) December 26, 2017

Houston Rockets Projected Starting 5:

Point Guard:  James Harden – 32.4 points, 9.2  assists, 5.2 rebounds

Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon – 19.5 points, 2.0 assists, 42.3% shooting

Small Forward:  Trevor Ariza – 12.2 points, 1.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds

Power ForwardRyan Anderson – 10.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 39.6% from deep

CenterNene – 7.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 60.0% shooting, 0.4 blocks

Boston Celtics Projected Starting 5:

Point Guard:  Kyrie Irving – 24.7 points, 4.9  assists, 3.0 rebounds

Shooting Guard: Marcus Smart – 9.4 points, 4.9 rebounds

Small Forward Jayson Tatum – 14.0 points, 1.4 assists, 5.6 rebounds

Power Forward: Marcus Morris ‭‬– 11.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 31.7% from deep

CenterAl Horford – 13.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 51.7% shooting, 1.0 blocks

Injury Report:

Three Keys To The Win:

The Beard Vs Uncle Drew: James Harden will have his hands full in Boston tonight. One of the league’s most execting players now resides in Boston, and much like James Harden, Kyrie Irving can light up his opponents on any given night. With the hopes and dreams of the franchise riding on his shoulders, Irving is averaging 24.7 points while shooting a career-high 49.1 percent from the field. Although the Celtics have been on a bit of a slump over their last five games (2-3), Irving has stepped up his game averaging 26.2 points and 5.8 assists during the stretch.

Clean the Glass: With Clint Capela out, the Rockets will have their hands full trying to keep the Celtics off the boards in tonight’s game. Heading into Thursday’s game, the Celtics are second in the league in total rebounds (1624) and first in total defensive rebounding (1296).

Containing The Big Fella: Another factor of having Capela out in tonight’s game is his defense against one of the NBA’s best center in Al Horford. He may not be Joel Embiid nor DeMarcus Cousins, but Horford isn’t a player to sleep on. This player gives the Celtics a consistent 16 points eight rebounds on the consistent basis.

Final Thoughts:

Despite coming in with the league’s second-best record, the loss of Chris Paul and Clint Capela may cost the Rockets their fourth straight loss tonight against the Celtics. Hopefully, they can get it done.

Next: Clint Capela out for road trip