Boston Celtics VS. Houston Rockets Pregame Analysis/Prediction
The Celtics, currently on their 4 game winning streak, welcome the Houston Rockets to Boston. The return of Avery Bradley to the starting lineup has fine tuned the C's defense, while the Rockets are coming off a disappointing loss against the New Orleans Hornets.
Individual Leaders BOS HOU
Points Pierce 19.8 Harden 26.4
Rebounds Garnett 7.0 Asik 11.4
Assists Rondo 11.3 Lin 6.4
Team Stats BOS HOU
Scoring 95.1 106.0
Rebounding 38.7 43.2
Assists 23.2 22.8
The Celtics and the Rockets have faced each other not too long ago (Dec 14, 2012), and the Rockets took the victory on their home court. However, the situation is a bit different after about a month, with Boston welcoming Avery Bradley back in the starting lineup and Houston playing without much consistency. The Rockets rely heavily on their superstar, James Harden, but it is their role players that must perform for Houston to fully activate their high-power offensive schemes. In their last game (see video), players like Parsons and Patterson drain three's and facilitate the ball well enough for Harden to penetrate and Asik to dominate inside. If the role players don't click, then the Celtics will shut down any flow that Houston tries to generate. Recently, with Parsons' illness and Patterson becoming a non-factor, players like Delfino, Lin, and Asik must step up offensively for Harden to have some freedom to operate.
Meanwhile, for the Celtics, the return of Avery Bradley is huge in fortifying their perimeter defense, as well as some offensive contribution. In the last game, Pierce was the primary offensive weapon, draining three's and driving to the lane. Rondo played OK, but definitely can step up to facilitate the offense more smoothly. Both Rondo and Pierce need to be aggressive attacking the rim, so that it opens space for their perimeter players, such as Terry and Bradley, to shoot from outside the arc.
On paper, it seems that the Rockets have superior stats over the Celtics, but the current numbers are a bit misleading. For one, the Celtics now have Bradley back, which should limit the number of points allowed, while strengthening the C's perimeter defense. On the other hand, the Rockets boast the best offense in the NBA (1st in scoring), but this is a team that has little consistency in replicating their high-octane offense day-in and day-out. If Harden decides to not show up to the game, and Lin is shut down by the Celtics' vastly improved perimeter defense, the Rockets will struggle to score. Furthermore, Houston's inside presence loses the physical battle against the C's Garnett and Sullinger, and will fail to grab rebounds against the rejuvenated Celtics squad. It will be a close game, but the Celtics take care of business at home. BOS 98 - HOU 90