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Houston Rockets vs. Boston Celtics game preview

NBA: Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets haven’t won two games in a row since their 9-game winning streak. On the one hand, this sudden onset of inconsistency is a bit disturbing. On the other hand, there are plenty of valid excuses for each loss, except Miami. On the third hand, the Heat just beat the Warriors so who knows anything anymore?

Moving past the odd image of a three-handed individual, the Rockets are still a substantially better team than they have shown over the last couple of weeks. The return of Clint Capela has thrown a wrench in the big man rotation. That’s a good problem to have, but suddenly in the span of a week the Rockets went from needing another big man to having too many big men.

Both the Rockets and Celtics are coming off disappointing losses to inferior teams on the road. Both games featured poor to nonexistent defenses. The Rockets allowed the Bucks to shoot 59% from the field and 48% from deep. The Celtics weren’t much better, giving up 58% and 45% from the field and three, respectively.

The Celtics have lost three in a row, giving up at least 117 in each contest. Since a December 18 win over the Heat, the Celtics have only held one team to under 100 points. They are giving up over 111 points per game during that span. For a team with Al Horford, Avery Bradley (currently injured), and a few other guys known as defensive guys, the Celtics haven’t been particularly good on that end. The Celtics now own a point differential of 1.7.

Houston gives up 108 points per game so we’re likely in for a scoring bonanza. When two teams play poor defense, the winner is usually the team that starts playing a semblance of defense in the fourth quarter. Or, it’s the home team because the crowd picks them up. That makes tonight’s task a difficult one, similar to the Milwaukee game.

Also, can the Rockets stop playing teams on losing streaks that are pissed off? It’s not a fun experience because the opposing team is ready to take out their frustration, especially in front of their home fans who are likewise frustrated. Can’t we get a team on a 2-game winning streak that is content and maybe a little overconfident? I know that Houston gets good efforts from everyone because of where they stand in the West, but the Rockets are in this limbo where they aren’t good enough for teams to rest stars against them (there was a stretch where it seemed to happen), but they aren’t middling enough for teams to take them lightly either.

Still, tonight will either be a good game or an absolute annihilation by the Celtics. I can’t see a middle ground. If Houston can find ways to slow down Fake Zeke or Horford, they might have a shot. But on the flip side, they cannot let the supporting cast defeat them either.

Last note: everyone loves the Celtics announcer, but they are huge homers. I know the Rockets guys (especially Bill and Clyde) get clobbered for homerism, but there are groups that put our guys to shame. Boston has them. The Clippers have them. The Raptors have them. So do the Spurs. You know my stance: I don’t care because announcers should be homers, but it bugs me when people degrade Bill Worrell yet gloss over others.

And let’s take a trip down memory lane (h/t ClutchFans).

Tip-off is at 6:30pm CT.

For an opponent’s perspective (and to possibly see how salty they are that I said something negative about their announcers), visit CelticsBlog