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Houston Rockets vs. Boston Celtics game preview

NBA: Boston Celtics at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

We leave one revenge game to start another.

A common theme among games Houston has lost has been the absence of someone important. Obviously, there’s been a lot made of the fact that Houston has only lost one game when James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela have played. Additionally, Houston only has three losses when both Harden and Paul play. That means 10 of Houston’s 13 losses have come when the Beard or CP3 was sidelined.

Both Clippers losses fit the bill (CP3 missed the first game and Harden missed the second). Houston got their revenge on Wednesday, ending Wesley Johnson’s ankles and the Clippers’ ability to control their own destiny moving forward.

Tonight, the Rockets get the Boston Celtics, who beat Houston with a crazy comeback aided by some...interesting refereeing decisions. The Rockets’ offense fell apart late and their defense was basically a sponge. Marcus Smart’s flops helped Boston get across the finish line, but Houston made their bed by thinking the game was over at halftime.

I think the bigger message from that game was that the narrative that Houston gets all the calls and that Harden is given preference by the referees is false. Or at least, that game should have eroded that feeling. If you’ve watched the Rockets much this season, you’ve seen Harden get screwed over on almost every continuation call. And against Boston, he got called twice for standing near Marcus Smart just days after he got called twice for standing near Jawun Evans.

After losing three straight before the All-Star break, Boston has won four straight coming out of the break. None have come against playoff teams, but then none of them have been particularly close. The Celtics are just one game back of Toronto for the top seed in the East, and play the Raptors two more times after splitting the first two games in the season series.

Boston might be missing Daniel Theis, who is questionable with a hamstring injury. Otherwise, they are healthy (ignoring the Gordon Hayward injury, obviously). Houston will be missing Ryan Anderson and Brandan Wright.

Tip-off is at 7:30pm CT on ABC