OK, so I was wrong. The Rockets did beat the Celtics. And what a win it was. Unfortunately, they were still statistically eliminated from the playoffs. Bollix.
Admittedly, the city of Indianapolis is probably a little more focused on the Final Four than a meaningless NBA game. However, with all the fans in town, the Rockets might get to see a packed house.
The Pacers beat the Rockets in the last meeting by playing ridiculously well in the fourth quarter. TJ Ford played like Chris Paul, and the Rockets couldn't stop him. This time, however, he's out with a groin injury.
I've been meaning to do this for a while: over/under 4.5 times Bill Worrell and Matt Bullard try to get me to buy season tickets for next year? I'll paraphrase what I've been hearing for the last month or so.
Bill: They've got AB, Yao, Luis, Kevin Martin, and these great rookies. This team will be fun to watch next season.
Matt: And Daryl Morey will probably bring in another guest star.
Um, Matt? Is your mouth cashing checks your body can't cash?
PG: Aaron Brooks vs. Earl Watson :
Earl Watson just isn't a good point guard, plain and simple. His stats (8/3/5) support this, but if you just watch him, you'll see what I mean.
AB hit a big shot again last night. With that one and the one against the Nuggets, I feel like he's starting to become our "clutch" (please don't kill me OAL) player. It's great for his confidence and for us as a team to get out of the Garden with a win.
SG:vs. Brandon Rush:
I got to see Rush while he was at Kansas. He's an amazing athlete, though he's no JT. His game is well-rounded, but I expected more from him by this time. He's averaging 9/4, but he defends well.
It seems like everyone had a defining moment against the Celtics. Let's review
AB had 30 and a big 3, Lowry made that awesome bank while getting molested and was great, Chase hit a bunch of threes and got some big rebounds, Chuck defended Pierce perfectly on the last play of regulation, Luis was just a badass, Hill had that great block in OT, and Hilton Armstrong and Mike Harris got minutes, which is a big deal for them.
Actually, everyone on the team had a big moment except JT. He only played 16 minutes, missed his only field goal attempt, and just looked frustrated. To be fair, the Celtics are one of the toughest defensive teams in the league, and they really kept him from making a difference. The Rockets were bailed out because Ray Allen also was ineffective. I expect Jermaine to play well
tonight this afternoon.
SF: Trevor Ariza vs. Danny Granger:
I usually like to see how well players do against the Rockets. Looking at these stats proves how important Shane is for this team. Wing players do considerably worse against the Rockets than against other teams, and in the past few years it's been due to Shane's excellent defense. Hopefully Trevor will become that player for the Rockets
PF: Luis Scola vs. Troy Murphy:
Troy Murphy is averaging a double-double this season, but his game is lacking in one serious area: Luis Scola-ness.
Luis Scola, on the other hand, has that aspect in spades.
C: Chuck Hayes vs. Roy Hibbert:
Another player who's got a bigger height advantage over Chuck than normal, so we'll probably see Jordan Hill guarding him quite a bit. The good news is that Hibbert starts the game with four fouls, so hopefully he'll get limited minutes or be very ineffective during his time on the court.
Pacers: Mike Dunleavy, Solomon Jones, A.J. Price, Josh McRoberts.
Rockets: You know who...
Advantage: Gotta be the Good Guys
Pacers: TJ Ford (hahaha!), Jeff Foster (he still plays?), Psycho T (ear infection)
Rockets: You know...
Prediction: For the first time in what seems like forever, I'll pick the Rockets by 8.