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Celtics go for first 3 game win streak as they visit the Rockets

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The Celtics continue their road trip out West with a visit to the Houston Rockets.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics (5-4) at Houston Rockets (4-5)
Monday, November 16, 2015
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #10, Road Game #4
TV: CSN-NE, ROOT, League Pass 754(DTV)/755(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub, 790 AM KBME
Toyota Center
Referees: Ed Malloy, Brian Forte, Eli Roe

The Celtics continue their road trip out West with a visit to the Houston Rockets. The Rockets have won the last 4 meetings between these two teams and the last 4 at home. But then again, the Celtics hadn't beaten the Thunder since 2010 before last night. The Rockets last played on Saturday when they lost to the Mavericks 110-98. The Celtics are playing in back to back games, after a big win in OKC on Sunday. The Celtics are looking for their first 3 game win streak of the season while the Rockets are looking to avoid a 4 game losing streak.

The Rockets are playing a bit short handed but they do have at least 2 superstars in Harden and Howard who will be playing. This is the Celtics' second back to back set of the season. Last season, the Celtics were very good on the second night of back to backs, winning 13 and losing only 5 on the second night. They lost the second game of their first back to back set to Indiana and will be looking to get a win in this one as they have made it a point of pride to do well in back to back games.

As far as stats are concerned, these teams aren't all that far away from each other. The Rockets are averaging 101.4 points per game while the Celtics are just a bit better at 101.8 points per game. The Celtics (44.6) average 1.3 rebounds more than the Rockets (43.3). And the Rockets turn the ball over 16.1 times per game compared to 15.7 turnovers for the Celtics.

The biggest difference between the Celtics and the Rockets may be defense. The Rockets are surrendering an average of 108.3 points while allowing opponents to shoot 47.0% from the floor and 36.9% from beyond the arc. The Celtics have the 4th best defensive rating in the league, allowing just 96 points per game on 42.2% shooting from the floor and 32.5% from beyond the arc.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Marcus Smart vs Ty Lawson

Shooting Guard
Avery Bradley vs James Harden

Small Forward
Jae Crowder vs Trevor Ariza

Power Forward
Amir Johnson vs Terrence Jones

Jared Sullinger vs Dwight Howard

Evan Turner
RJ Hunter
Jonas Jerebko
David Lee
Jordan Mickey (D-League)
Terry Rozier (D-League)
James Young (D-League)
Tyler Zeller
Kelly Olynyk

Head Coach
Brad Stevens


Marcus Thornton
Clint Capela
Corey Brewer
Jason Terry
KJ McDaniels (D-League)

Head Coach

Kevin McHale


Montrezl Harrell (ankle) day to day
Patrick Beverly (concussion) out
Sam Dekker (back) out
Donatas Motiejunas (back) out

Key Matchups
Avery Bradley vs James Harden
James Harden is averaging 28.8 points (more than 1/4 of the Rockets' points, along with 6.4 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.8 steals. It will be up to Avery Bradley as well as Marcus Smart to slow Harden down. I imagine that Smart will be on Harden and Bradley will be on Lawson for the most part when the starters are out there. Harden is also not known for playing great defense and so the Celtics may be able to take advantage of that if Bradley, Smart or Thomas can get hot.

Jared Sullinger vs Dwight Howard
Jared Sullinger will be tasked with trying to stop the Rockets' big man. Howard can be a handful inside and one of the keys to guarding him is to push him out away from his comfort zone. Another key to this matchup is the fact that the outside shooting of the Celtics big men will draw Howard out from the paint on the other end.

Honorable Mention
Isaiah Thomas vs Marcus Thornton
These two players were traded for each other last season and the matchup between the two should be interesting. Thornton has been playing well for the Rockets with 15.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.57 steals per game.

Keys to the Game

Depth - Since the Celtics are playing in back to back games, their depth is going to be a key in this game. The second unit has to play well and they have to spread the minutes out so as not to run out of gas before the end of the game.

Pace - Brad Stevens' system depends on the Celtics to run and set the pace of the game. The Rockets depend on getting a lot from their starters and they are also a bit short handed and so if the Celtics can run and push the pace they may be able to wear them out. They also have to move the ball and find the open man to keep the Rockets from setting up their defenses.

Rebound - In order to score, the Celtics need the ball and to get the ball, they will need to crash the boards as a team. They can't allow Dwight Howard to have a big game on the boards, which will limit the Celtics fast breaks as well as their second chance points. When the Celtics put out extra effort on the boards, it usually carries over into the rest of their game just as it did against the Hawks and the Thunder.

Defense - Defense is always a key to every game. Defense wins games. The Celtics need to play tough team defense and limit the Rockets' scoring.

Back to Back on the Road - The Celtics are playing on the second night of back to back games on the road. This is a tough game to win in a hostile environment and after a very tough game the night before in OKC.

- The Celtics are coming off a great win over the Thunder in which they played excellent defense and out-rebounded them by 13 and dominated the paint. They need to carry that mindset and momentum from that game into this one.

Official Report
Ed Malloy

Malloy has officiated 830 regular season NBA games, 54 playoff games and four NBA Finals games, over the past 13 seasons. Prior to joining the NBA, Malloy officiated for one season in the NBA D-League, three seasons in the CBA and three seasons in the WNBA. He worked the 2002 NBA D-League Finals and the 2001 CBA Finals.

Malloy is very quick to call technicals and in the past has ejected Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for 2 quick techicals, all 3 of which had one or both rescinded by the league afterwards. He has called games in the past that were lopsided against the Celtics as well as some that were lopsided in favor of the Celtics so you never know which Malloy will show up. In one game against the Pacers last season he made several terrible calls down the stretch including an out of bounds call that was obviously wrong and gave the game to Indiana. The Pacers shot 34 free throws to 16 for the Celtics. The Celtics are 1-9 in their last 10 games with Malloy while the Rockets are 1-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10. His home W/L record is 5-3.

Brian Forte

Brian Forte, who is the son of retired NBA referee Joe Forte, has officiated 465 regular season games and five Playoff game in seven NBA seasons. He also officiated the 2011 NBA All-Star Rookie/Sophmore game. He worked for six seasons in the NBA D-League, officiating 126 games. During that time he worked two Finals. He also officiated in several college conferences, including the Southern Conference, where he officiated the 2007 conference tournament final, and the Southeastern Conference, where he officiated the 2007 conference tournament. Forte also was selected to officiate the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

Forte was the object of Tommy's wrath in the classic rant that follows (the T was later rescinded).
The officiating in that game was bad both ways. Forte was one of the refs that officiated a Celtics win in Indiana 2 seasons ago. The officiating in that game was horrible and very one sided toward the Pacers. One of the comments from the Pacers' forum said that they wouldn't blame Celtics fans if they punched out the refs. It's bad when the officiating is so terrible that the opposing fans feel bad about it. Tommy also had this to say, "I hope this group of officials doesn't officiate the playoffs. Holy cow! They are terrible." Both teams are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Forte officiating. His home W/L record this season is 5-2.

Eli Roe

Eli Roe has officiated 558 regular season games during his first 10 NBA seasons. Prior to joining the NBA staff, Roe officiated in the CBA, NBA Development League and WNBA. He officiated in the NBA D-League Finals for two years, the D-League playoffs for four years and the WNBA Playoffs for two years. At the collegiate level, Roe refereed in the SEC, ASUN and OVC conferences and numerous Division II and III, NAIA and Juco league games. He also worked in four Division I postseason conference tournaments.

Roe tends to be inconsistent in his calls and can make the calls favor one team over another on any given night. He is also inconsistent with block/charge calls. In Roe's final game with the Celtics 2 seasons ago, a win over the Clippers, Roe made so many bad calls that Tommy yelled "Eli! I hate Eli! I hate him!" The games with Roe last season were well officiated. The Celtics are 2-8 in their last 10 games with Roe. The Rockets are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Roe. This is his first game with both teams this season. Roe's home W/L record this season is 4-3.