Houston Rockets (21-17) at Boston Celtics (19-17)
Tuesday March 6
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #37, Home Game #23
TV: CSN-NE, FSH, NBA-LP 755/756
Radio: WEEI, KILT
Referees: Rodney Mott, Matt Boland, Haywoode Workman
The Celtics conclude their home stand with their one and only meeting with the the Houston Rockets, who are coached this season by Celtic legend Kevin McHale. The Rockets have stayed under the radar for the most part but are 4 games over .500. The Celtics haven't played a team over .500 since Feb 22, when they lost by 15 points to the OKC Thunder. Things are about to get tougher for the Celtics. 9 of their next 10 games are on the road and 8 of those 10 games will be against teams with winning records.
The Rockets are 9th in the league in scoring with 97.2 ppg while the Celtics are down at 26th with 90.9 ppg. The Celtics are more efficient shooting 45.6% from the field while Houston is shooting 44.8%. Neither team is a great rebounding team but Houston is better with 41.9 rpg to just 39.3 for the Celtics (last in the NBA).
Both teams are 5-5 in their last 10 games. Both teams have 17 losses but the Rockets have played 2 more games than the Celtics and so have 2 more wins. The Celtics are 14-8 at home while the Rockets have struggled a bit on the road with a 6-11 record. The Celtics are in the 7th spot in the East while the Rockets are sitting in the 7th spot in the West. The Celtics are just 1-7 against Western opponents while the Rockets have fared better against the East with an 8-2 record.
Even though the Rockets aren't in the Celtics conference or division, every game from now on has playoff implications. The Celtics are just 1.5 games back of Philly for the Atlantic Division lead. A win tonight and then again tomorrow night against Philly would give the Celtics a tie with Philly for the division. The Celtics have won 4 in a row while the Rockets have lost their last 3. Here's hoping that both streaks stay alive after this game.
Probable Starting Matchups
Brandon Bass vs Louis Scola
Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) out
Jordan Hill (MCL) out
Rajon Rondo vs Kyle Lowry
Rondo is coming off a huge game against New York. The big question is whether he can follow up that game with another big game even though the competition at point guard isn't a big marque matchup. The Celtics need a strong game from their point guard since as goes Rondo so go the Celtics.
Brandon Bass vs Luis Scola
Scola is a tough player and Bass needs to be able to give as good as he gets from Scola. Bass must try to keep Scola from getting to the rim.
Kevin Garnett vs Samuel Dalembert
KG has been playing like he's been drinking from the fountain of youth. Dalembert isn't known for his tough defense and so KG may have a big game in this one.
Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics must keep their defensive mindset. Defense wins games. The Celtics offense and energy always feeds off of what they do on the defensive end. It all starts with defense.
Rebounding - The Celtics must make an effort to crash the boards as a team. The fact that Rondo could get 17 rebounds vs the Knicks among all the bigger players shows how much of a factor effort and desire are in rebounding. Every Celtic must make an effort to box out and grab rebounds to prevent put backs, second chance points and fast breaks by the Rockets.
Ball Movement - The Celtics are tough to beat when they keep the ball moving and find the open man. It is when the ball gets stagnant and players try to do too much and the ball stops moving that the Celtics struggle to score and look vulnerable. They must move the ball without turning the ball over due to sloppy passing.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics have to be aggressive in going after loose balls, grabbing rebounds and taking the ball to the basket. They have to be the team that plays with more energy and the team that is more aggressive. They have to play like they want it more.
Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics can't afford to come out sluggish or to slack off after the half or down the stretch. They have to come out strong and play for 48 minutes without let up. The bench has to continue where the starters leave off and give the team a boost when they come in.
Rodney Mott has officiated 870 regular season games and seven playoff
games during his 14-season NBA career. Prior to joining the NBA officiating staff, Mott spent four years officiating in the CBA, eight years officiating in the Los Angeles Pro Am basketball league, three years officiating at the junior college level, and four years officiating high school in San Diego. In 2007, Mott was suspended without pay for 3 games for making an obscene gesture and inappropriate comment toward a fan. Mott challenged the charges and said that they used him as a scapegoat to take attention away from other issues, but the suspension stood. The Celtics are 0-1 this season and 7-3 over their last 10 games with Mott. The loss this season was at Dallas and there weren't many fouls called on either team. The Mavs shot 14 free throws to 11 for the Celtics. The Rockets are 3-7 with Mott in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 21-9.
Entering his ninth season as an NBA official, Matt Boland has worked 490 regular season games. Prior to joining the NBA, he spent seven years officiating in the CBA, including the 1999, 2000 and 2001 CBA Finals. He also officiated for five years in the WNBA and worked the 2002 and 2003 WNBA Finals, as well as two years in the NBA Development League, working the 2003 D-League Finals. Boland also has five years of USBL officiating experience, including the 1997 USBL Finals. Boland officiated at the collegiate level for four years. He also has high school officiating experience in his home state of Connecticut and worked two State Finals games in 1997 and 1998. Boland’s athletic accomplishments include being a member of PGA where he played in several PGA tour events and still currently holds his PGA card. He spent time working as a teaching pro before joining the NBA staff. He also was a member of the 1986 New England Prep Champions Wilbraham Monson Academy Basketball team. Boland, along with Scott Foster, was questioned by the FBI in regard to the Tim Donaghy case after it was found that Donaghy often phoned Boland on game days. The FBI cleared both Boland and Foster of involvement in that betting scandal. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Boland. This is their first game with him this season. Houston is 1-2 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Boland. His home W/L record is 17-11.
Workman is a former NBA player who crossed over to the dark side to become an NBA referee. Haywoode Workman has officiated 166 regular season games in his first three NBA seasons. A second round draft pick by the Atlanta Hawks in 1989, he played professionally for eight seasons in the NBA and overseas betweeen 1989
to 2000. He spent four seasons officiating in the NBA Development League and also officiated in the CBA before joining the NBA. Workman joins Bernie Fryer and Leon Wood on the short list of NBA players who have made the transition to officiating after their playing careers. He was inducted into the Oral Roberts University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003. The Celtics are 1-0 this season and 5-5 over the last 10 games with Workman. The win was against Charlotte where the Bobcats shot 20 free throws to 8 for the Celtics. Houston is 7-3 in their last 10 with Workman, including a couple of losses this season. His home W/L record is 15-10 this season.
Home Court and Effort
The Celtics will have the home court behind them and have done a good job of defending the home court so far on this home stand and they will soon be going out on the road for an extended period. They have to use the home crowd to give them a boost. The Celtics played hard and put out a lot of effort to beat the Knicks and they have to put that same effort into this game if they want to come away with the win.