The Houston Rockets will fly out to the TD Garden where they will take on the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. This will be the second time during this season that these two teams will go head-to-head. In their first match-up played on Dec. 5th it was the Houston Rockets who pulled off a 107-106 win at their home court. The tonight’s game is expected to be a close one as well and should showcase a lot of excitement. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 PM ET.
It seems like the crisis has hit the teams from the EAST. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors and now the Boston Celtics all belong to the upper class of the Eastern conference standings, but all of these teams seem to be going through some struggles as of lately. With the Cavs and the Raptors dropping games left and right, it was expected that the Celtics might benefit from that, but it is not the case so far. However, it cannot be denied that the Celtics are still having a super season having collected 26 wins and 18 wins. Going against the Rockets tonight, the Celtics hope to have more focus in the closing minutes and that they will make some tough shots, which was not the case in the first meeting with the Rockets. Also, defensive stops on Harden will be very important considering that he scored 37 points in that game.
Green, Bradley and Zeller are still questionable for tonight’s match and this could be the main issue for the Celtics, considering that Bradley (17.7 ppg and 6.9 apg) is a very important player in the Celtics rotation, while Green and Zeller are very important on the defensive end. The Celtics are averaging 107.3 points per game while shooting 45% from the field and 37% from the 3-point line. On the other side of the floor, the Celtics are allowing 105.3 points to their opponents.
Isaiah Thomas is entering this contest with a phenomenal stat sheet, averaging 29.0 points per contest on a 46% shooting from the field and dishing out 6.0 assists. Al Horford is putting up 15.1 points per game and pulling down 6.9 rebounds while also handing out a very decent 5.0 assists per game.
The Houston Rockets (34-14) are having a surprisingly good season so far and despite the fact that they have not been at their best lately, they are still right behind the two top Western conference teams, the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs. Led by the highly improved James Harden, the Rockets are simply unstoppable, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they finish the regular season being at the very top of the conference standings. Harden is, alongside Russell Westbrook, the top favorite candidate for the MVP of the year as he is averaging 28.6 ppg, 11.6 apg and 8.2 rebounds, and more importantly leading his team to unexpectedly good results. In the first meeting with the Celtics, Harden scored 13 of his total 37 points in the final quarter, lifting his team to a very important home win.
However, the Rockets have seen a lot of ups and downs in their last 7 games, with the latest loss coming on Monday against the Milwaukee Bucks on the road (114-127). Harden recorded 11 turnovers and this was recognized as the main problem for the Rockets loss in that game. One thing that is important for the Rockets as they prepare to step onto the court and face the Celtics, is the fact that they are complete, having Beverly, Anderson and Capela back in full swing and having their starting five complete again.
The Rockets are the 2nd best team in the league in offense, averaging 114.5 points per contest, while giving up 107.8 points to their opponents. From the field, the Rockets are shooting 47% while from the 3-point line they are recording 37% shooting.
HOUSTON ROCKETS vs BOSTON CELTICS PREDICTION
The Houston Rockets are 29-19 ATS overall and 26-22 against the over/under.
The Boston Celtics are 23-18-2 ATS overall and 23-20 against the over/under.
The Celtics have not beaten the Rockets at the TD Garden in their last three meetings, and considering the fact that they have played the Rockets only once at home each season, it means that they have not beaten the Rockets at home in the last three years. It is a long drought for the Celtics, and taking in account that they will most likely be without some key players, I believe that the drought might be extended. In a close game, I am picking the visitors to come out victorious while also picking the Over as well!!!
MY PICK: Houston Rockets -1.5
Total: Over 118.5 points