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Can the Rockets defeat the defensive-minded Celtics?

Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images
Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets will face the Boston Celtics as they look to win their 15th consecutive game and their 11th straight game at home.

The Houston Rockets have won 14 consecutive games for the second time this season. Over the streak, their margin of victory is 13.3 points. Houston hasn’t been just winning, they’re blowing teams out.

Despite their success, the Rockets know that they have to keep their foot on the gas. “We’re not at a time to relax at all,” James Harden told the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen.

Indeed, Harden is right on target. While the No. 3 seed and below in the west are nearly interchangeable, the Rockets and the Warriors are in their own battle for conference supremacy. Houston is 48-13, while Golden State is 49-14, so the Rockets will fall behind the Warriors if they lose tonight.

Speaking of Houston’s opponent, the Celtics have won their last four games. That’s a good sign for Celtics fans, as Boston has struggled in recent months. Their 14-9 record since the New Year is far behind their 30-10 record to close out 2017.

The last time these teams squared off, Boston erased a 26 point deficit to defeat Houston 99-98. The Rockets went cold in the second half, scoring just 36 total points. Meanwhile, the Celtics scored 61 points in the final two quarters and out scored Houston 56-28 in the paint. The Rockets didn’t have Chris Paul or Clint Capela in that game, but they will suit up tonight.

Boston’s offense struggles to produce without Kyrie on the floor. However, Terry Rozier has turned into a reliable offensive option for the second unit. Since securing a triple-double in his first career start on Jan. 31, Rozier has averaged 15.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game off of the bench.

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Boston has the league’s top ranked defense, but it would be hard to imagine them holding the Rockets under 100 points at home. The Celtics will have to score more points than they did in the first matchup to leave Houston with a win.

Tip off is at 7:30 PM CT on ABC. It should be a good one.