Rockets vs. Celtics:
7:30 p.m. (Eastern)
Is there a point guard on either roster?
How should I feel about Kris Humphries? I really don't know.
Do aircraft carriers have keys?
Tonight the Rockets look to move to 2 - 1 on their four game road trip when they tip off against the floundering Boston Celtics.
The Celtics started the season "hot." The team was expected to be leading the league's tankfest alongside the 76ers and Magic, but found itself in the playoff mix in the terrible Eastern conference with a barely respectable 12 - 14 record. Then reality struck.
The Celtics have lost their last 8 games and 11 of their last 12. Turns out an offense powered by Jordan Crawford, Jeff Green and Avery Bradley isn't enough to get the job done.
The Rockets enter this game after an up and down victory against the Wizards. They allowed a 22 point lead to slip away in the second half but managed to grit out a victory punctuated by two game delays due to a leak in the Verizon Center's roof.
Tonight's game should see Chandler Parsons return to the court after missing the last three games with injuries to his knee, hamstring and calf. MRI's were negative on all. Consider it regular wear and tear. The Rockets sorely miss him on the offensive end of the court. The time off helpfully gave him an opportunity to rest his back which hampered him with spasms earlier in the season.
Also -- I saw the Rockets beat the Celtics at Toyota Center earlier this year. The Celtics "have much room to improve."
Point Guard: Jeremy Lin vs. Jordan Crawford
Jeremy Lin has been doing Jeremy Lin things since moving into the starting lineup. He's getting points and creating problems for defenses, but he's playing more like a ball heavy two guard than a distribute-first point guard.
Crawford has shown more life for the Celtics than he ever did for the Wizards, but that's not enough to make on of the worst teams in the league much better.
Neither of these players is a true point guard and the clock is most certainly ticking on Crawford as Rajon Rondo continues his rehab. Don't expect there to be a ton of defense in this pairing.
Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Avery Bradley
Bradley is having a solid season as an offensive option for a terrible team. He's considered one of the league's top perimeter defenders, but he's been thrust into a role many didn't expect him to fit at all.. His play has improved as the season has progressed and he's dropped 20+ points on several occasions.
The big question for the game is how Avery Bradley's defense frustrates James Harden. When matched up against tenacious defenders Harden has shown a tendency to acquire a disinterest for the game and resort to hero ball strategies long before the fourth quarter.
This is a double edged sword as the defensive effort Bradley puts in will likely leave him with less to give on the offensive end. At the end of the day Harden's on fire and Bradley, while being a quality defender, doesn't look like the guy that's going to slow him down.
Small Forward: Chandler Parsons vs. Jeff Green
Jeff Green is what we thought he is. A swingy forward with a compliment of offensive skills who doesn't suck at defense. He was made into the goat of the Kendrik Perkins trade for a year and a half (ok, perhaps only Bill Simmons thought Kendrik Perkins was the best player in that trade), but he now looks like the best player involved in that trade.
Green and Parsons have similar games, but right now the Celtics are asking the world of Green, a role he can't serve. Think Trevor Ariza post-Lakers. Parsons brings an intangible quality to the floor on both ends that Green seems to lack. You just don't sit at a game and say "that guy just impressed me."
Parsons is returning from injury and I think he's going to come back well rested. His injuries were wear and tear and we can all argue he needed a few games off after seeing he was second in the league in distance traveled on the court.
Power Forward: Terrence Jones vs. Brandon Bass
Terrence Jones is coming off a career game where he scored 17 of 19 points in the second half and pulled down a career high 17 rebounds. Those are all good things.
Brandon Bass is coming off none of those things. He looks like a player who would be a quality contributor on a contending team who is sick and tired of being on terrible teams -- So let's collect our paycheck and wait until we're traded for a second round draft pick.
Center: Dwight Howard vs. Kris Humphries
Does anyone know how I'm supposed to feel about Kris Humphries anymore? Please let me know. Am I supposed to hate him or feel sympathy for him? If anyone has an answer, please let me know.
On the basketball court his play takes streaky to new levels. There have been periods in the last three seasons where you think Humphries could average a double-double if given the playing time on the right team. Other times I've wondered aloud about why they bother to give him warmups since he's obviously unprepared to play.
Honestly, I don't see a single player on the Celtics roster that can handle Dwight in the paint. I expect the Celtics to pick up tons of fouls while trying to contain Howard. Get in line, Bass, Humphries, Sullinger and Olynyk.