Houston Rockets (16-21) at Boston Celtics (28-8)
Monday, January 10
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #37, Home Game #19
TV: NBA-TV, CSN-NE, FSH, NBAC
Radio: WEEI, KILT
Last season, the Celtics split the series with the Rockets 1‐1. Paul Pierce averaged 26.5 points and shot 62.5% from three‐point territory in the two games. Rajon Rondo averaged a double-double
with 12.5 points and 10.0 assists per game. The Rockets shot 48.6% from three as a team and were led by Luis Scola and his 22.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Scola is the only starter from last season who remains in the starting lineup. Chase Budinger shot 6‐of‐9 from three in the two games while Aaron Brooks averaged 20.0 points, 6.0 assists and shot 57.1% from three in the two games vs the Celtics.
The Celtics are coming off a loss after winning their previous 4 games. The Rockets have lost 5 in a row and will be motivated to avoid their first 6 game losing streak since Nov. 13-23, 2007. The Rockets are 6-14 on the road while the Celtics are 16-2 at home. In their last 10 games, the Celtics are 6-4, while the Rockets are 4-6. Both teams have had to work through injuries this season so far.
The Rockets, of course are missing Yao Ming again this season, but since they haven”t had him for 2 seasons, it isn”t like they really depended on him. It would give the Celtics a big boost in this one if KG were to return for this game. He didn”t participate in the morning shoot around and is listed as questionable for this game. If KG can”t go, Big Baby would have to step up and play much better as he will have a tough match up against Luis Scola.
Rajon Rondo vs Kyle Lowry
Ray Allen vs Kevin Martin
Paul Pierce vs Shane Battier
Kevin Garnett vs Louis Scola
Shaquille O”Neal vs Jordan Hill
Kendrick Perkins (knee) out
Delonte West (wrist) out
Kevin Garnett (calf) day to day
Aaron Brooks (ankle) questionable
Chuck Hayes (ankle) out
Yao Ming (ankle) out
Rajon Rondo vs Kyle Lowry
As Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. He was off his game vs the Bulls and so were the Celtics, compiling just 12 assists for the entire team. Rondo needs to bounce back with a more Rondo-like game for the Celtics to win.
Ray Allen vs Kevin Martin
Against the Bulls, Ray didn”t take a shot the entire 4th quarter. Martin is the focal point of the Rockets attack and has been averaging 30.7 points on 56.3-percent shooting over their last 3 games. Ray will need to try to limit Martin”s effectiveness while being more involved in the Celtics offense in this game.
Kevin Garnett (or Big Baby) vs Luis Scola
Scola is a tough player and can score both inside and out. Whoever guards him must keep him from getting to the hoop. I am employing wishful thinking in putting KG back in the starting lineup as Big Baby had one of the worst games of the season vs the Bulls and has proved that he is more effective off the bench than as a starter. KG didn”t participate in the morning shoot around and is listed as questionable and will more than likely be a game time decision if he plays.
Keys to the Game
Defense – The Celtics must keep their defensive mindset. They can”t depend on shooting 60% plus every game and they need to concentrate on stopping their opponents. Defense wins games.
Rebounding – The Celtics were once again out-rebounded in their last game, grabbing only 27 rebounds to 48 for the Bulls. This has been a weak spot for the Celtics this season. There is no doubt that getting KG and then Perk back will help in this area, but other players must step up in the meantime. If Big Baby starts at the 4 again, he must work harder on the boards.
Ball Movement – The Celtics are tough to beat when they keep the ball moving and find the open man. It is when the ball gets stagnant and players try to do too much and the ball stops moving that the Celtics struggle to score and look vulnerable. They only had 12 assists against the Bulls and they won”t win many games that way. Big Baby has to do a better job of sharing the ball. He should never lead the team in field goals attempted.
Be Aggressive – Too many times against the Bulls, we saw the Celtics get beat to loose balls and rebounds and settle for jumpers. the Celtics have to be aggressive in going after loose balls, grabbing rebounds and taking the ball to the basket. The Celtics were passive for the most part against the Bulls and they have to be the more aggressive team if they want to win.
Play 48 Minutes – The Celtics can”t afford to come out sluggish or to slack off after the half or down the stretch. They have to come out strong and play for 48 minutes without let up. The bench has to continue where the starters leave off and give the team a boost when they come in.
Effort and Home Court
The Celtics must put out a better effort in this game than they did against the Bulls if they want to win this one. They will have the home court behind them and have done a good job of defending the home court with a 16-2 record so far and they have to use the home crowd to give them a boost and get the win.
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