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Houston Rockets vs. Boston Celtics game preview

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

Tonight marks the first of three straight games on national television for the Rockets, and they each come against top Eastern Conference opponents.

After tonight’s matchup with the Boston Celtics, Houston heads north of the border to face the Raptors on TNT, then return home to face the Philadelphia 76ers on ESPN. The Rockets are unlikely to be favored by Vegas in any of those games. If Houston wants any real shot at moving up in the standings, they will need to go 2-1 against this group.

Like Houston, the Celtics have struggled compared to their expectations. While Houston’s issues arose from a lack of continuity in the rotation and new signings not working out, Boston has run into trouble because they have so many players trying to get paid. Kyrie Irving is the unquestioned alpha on the team, but the young core are trying to get noticed as well. Terry Rozier will be a restricted free agent this summer, plus Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are going to need their first big contracts soon. It’s interesting that the same young core that was celebrated last season is definitely a major factor in their struggles this season.

The Rockets still have a slew of players that are listed as day-to-day, including Eric Gordon, Iman Shumpert, Kenneth Faried, and Gerald Green. For Boston, Aron Baynes is questionable.

Tip-off is 2:30pm CT on ABC