Rockets News

Houston Rockets look to beat the Boston Celtics on national stage

By Michael Knight
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Houston Rockets will continue their recent stretch of nationally televised games as they face the Celtics in a prime-time matchup tonight on TNT.

The Houston Rockets are rolling, even with Chris Paul being injured with a hamstring strain. They have won seven of their last eight games, including the last two without their star point guard.

They will have yet another test in one of their hardest stretches of the year against some serious teams. Tonight, we get to see them face one of the best in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics. Can James Harden and the Rockets continue to play well on both ends of the court and get the victory over Kyrie Irving and a tough Celtics squad?

James Harden

Speaking of James Harden, let’s hope that he ends up playing tonight. He was listed as questionable yesterday with a bruised left calf, as Jonathan Feigen reported:

Rockets guard James Harden is questionable to play against the Celtics tomorrow with a bruised left calf.

— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) December 26, 2018

Historically, it always seems like Harden ends up playing through a “questionable” injury report. I expect him to be good to go, as does ESPN’s Tim MacMahon:

Source: Rockets guard James Harden is expected to play vs. Celtics. He's listed as questionable due to a left calf contusion.

— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 27, 2018

Let’s hope he plays and continues his insane stretch of games! He is currently at seven games in a row with 30 points, and the Rockets will need that and more if they want to beat a tough Celtics squad. Marcus Smart can give Harden issues sometimes, so tonight is a good time to go off against him on a national stage.

Bench

The bench will need to come ready to play as well. The Celtics are a very deep squad that have the luxury of playing many starting-caliber guys in their rotation. Though he’s still a bit rusty, Gordon Hayward coming off the bench at times for the team is nothing to joke about, same with Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown.

Gerald Green has been awesome recently for the Rockets. His shot-making and energy is something the Rockets desperately needed and has been a part of this recent turnaround for the team. He’ll need to play well and hit his shots tonight.

Austin Rivers is set to play his second game of the year for Houston. He did a very good job in the first one, locking up Russell Westbrook and hitting some huge shots down the stretch of the game. He will be tasked with Kyrie Irving some tonight as his matchups will continue to stay tough for the next couple of weeks:

The first six matchups for Austin Rivers as a Rocket:Russell WestbrookKyrie IrvingJrue HolidayMike ConleySteph CurryDamian Lillard

That’s tough. He did very well against Westbrook on Christmas Day, how will he do against Kyrie tonight?

— Space City Scoop (@SpaceCity_Scoop) December 27, 2018

We can’t expect too much from Rivers, but it would be nice to see him have a similar game to last time.

The Rockets played just an eight-man rotation on Christmas Day, with Nene being the eighth guy. The Celtics might not be the best matchup for Nene, so could we possibly see some Gary Clark tonight in more of a versatile role? I hope so, and I hope he plays well and earns some minutes.

Next. James Harden is having the best stretch of his career

Be sure to tune in tonight at 7:00 p.m. CT on TNT or AT&T SportsNet SW as the Rockets face one of the best in the East!

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