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Celtics Hope that Home Will Cure What Ails Them


Houston Rockets (21-15) at Boston Celtics (29-7)
Wednesday January 7
7:30 PM ET
Game #37, Home Game #20
Radio: WEEI
TD Banknorth Garden

Game Thread l Chat

The Celtics enter this game having lost 5 of their last 7 games with all of those five losses coming on the road. They are hoping that a game at home is what they need to right the ship and get them back on track. They have lost just one game on the Parquet all season and so it would seem that this may indeed help them to get back to their winning ways. The Rockets are 10-11 on the road and have already lost the first 3 games on their current road trip. Both teams are hurting and nursing injuries and both teams are playing in the second of back to back games.

The Celtics lead the all time series between these two teams 84-39. The Celtics swept the series last season for the first time since 1990-91. The most notable win came in Houston where the Celtics ended Houston's 22 game win streak. The Celtics won the first matchup this season in Houston 103-99.

These teams have played very physical and heated games against each other this season both in Houston and in the preseason. The Rockets seem to have taken on the personna of Ron Artest with cheap shots and physical play and the Celtics have been happy to play them physical in return which has lead to short tempers and technical fouls. With both teams being tired and hurting, we may see more of the benches in this one but it still should be a spirited contest with both teams trying to get back on track with a win.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Raefer Alston

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen vs Luther Head

Small Forward
Paul Pierce vs Tracy McGrady

Power Forward
Kevin Garnett vs Louis Scola


Kendrick Perkins vs Yao Ming

Leon Powe
Glen Davis
Eddie House
Gabe Pruitt
Brian Scalabrine
Sam Cassell
Patrick O'Bryant

Kevin Garnett (leg) will play
Tony Allen (ankle) questionable

D League
Bill Walker
JR Giddens

Aaron Brooks
Chuck Hayes
Carl Landry
Vaughn Wafer
Brent Barry
Shane Battier
Ron Artest
Dikembe Mutombo

Shane Battier (foot) questionable
Ron Artest (ankle) questionable
Tracy McGracy (knee) will play

Joey Dorsey

Key Matchups
Paul Pierce vs Tracy McGrady
McGrady is still battling a sore knee but has been playing through it. Paul Pierce is the one starter for the Celtics who has continued to bring it night in and night out. This should be a good matchup for the Celtics.

Rajon Rondo vs Rafer Alston
As we have seen many times, as Rondo goes, so goes the Celtics. When Rondo becomes tentative and settles for jumpers, the Celtics play poorly but when he is aggressive and goes to the hoop and finds the open man, the Celtics are hard to beat. Let's hope Rondo comes to play in this one. He is coming off a 9 turnover game against the Bobcats and so it seems he has to play better than that.

Honorable Mention
Kendrick Perkins vs Yao Ming
While no one has the height to match up with Yao, Perk has proved he has the strength to hold him off and bother his shots. Yao is healthy and is a handful for opposing centers to guard but Perk can keep him from dominating inside if he is playing his typical defense.

Keys to the Game:
Defense: The Rockets are 14-0 this season when scoring 100 or more points. The Celtics need to find their defensive intensity which they seem to have lost recently. The Celtics need to defend the paint and keep Yao and Scola from dominating inside, but they also need to defend beyond the arc as the Rockets are a very good perimeter shooting team. They have made 10 or more 3 pointers in a game 9 times already this season. Defense wins games and the Celtics have been getting away from the tough team defense that has made them such a good team this far.

Focus When teams play the Celtics tough, they seem to lose their focus. The Rockets are a good defensive team, ranking 7th in the league in points allowed and the Celtics will need to keep their focus and not allow Houston's defense to take them out of their game.

Crash the Boards With Yao Ming and Louis Scola inside, the Rockets are a good rebounding team and rank 6th in the league in rebounds per game. In the first meeting between these two teams, the Rockets out-rebounded the Celtics on the offensive glass and were able to get second chance points off those rebounds to keep the game close. The Celtics need to show the effort and desire it takes to crash the glass and grab the rebounds which is something they haven't been doing recently.

Limit Turnovers The Celtics are still last in the league in turnovers and have to concentrate on fixing that problem. Teams like the Rockets can take advantage of those turnovers and so the Celtics must take better care of the ball.

Fatigue and Bench Play
The Celtics have admitted to being tired lately. Having the starters play between 40 and 50 minutes in a loss the night before definitely has to take something out of them. The win streak and minor injuries have taken more out of this team than any of them are admitting. Both teams are playing in the second of back to back games on the road and both are coming off a loss. The Rockets are on an extended road trip while the Celtics will be playing a home game in the middle of 2 road games. With starters from both teams tired, it may come down to which bench plays better.

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