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Celtics host Rockets looking to extend home win streak to 15

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The Celtics host the Houston Rockets, looking to sweep the season series.

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

at
Houston Rockets (32-32) at Boston Celtics (39-26)
Friday, March 11, 2016
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #66, Home Game #34
TV: CSN-NE, ROOT, NBA-LP 755(DTV)/754,753(Xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 790AM
TD Garden

Referees: Derrick Stafford, Eric Dalen, Michael Smith

The Celtics will try to win their 15th straight home game as they host the Houston Rockets. This is the second and final meeting between these two teams this season. The Celtics won 111-95 in Houston in November this season. The Rockets won the series 2-0 last season.

This is the 4th game of a 5 game road trip for the Rockets. They won their last 2 on the road and are 15-18 on the road overall. The Celtics are 23-10 at home. The Celtics are looking for just their 2nd straight win but their 15th in a row at home.

The Celtics have once again moved to 1.5 games ahead of Miami for the 3rd spot in the East as the result of the Celtics win over the Grizzlies and the Heat's loss to the Bucks on Wednesday. The Celtics are also 3 games ahead of Atlanta (5th) and 5 games behind Toronto (2nd). Miami is playing in Chicago and so the Celtics need to get this win. The Rockets are holding down the 8th spot in the West just half a game behind the 7th spot and 3 games ahead of Utah, who are 9th.

Kelly Olynyk is nearing a return to the lineup but is still listed as day to day with some remaining stiffness and soreness in his injured shoulder. Jared Sullinger played on Wednesday, just a day after being hospitalized with a skin infection and dehydration and even though the doctors suggested he sit out the game. He noted that he felt a step slow against the Grizzlies and sat out Thursday's practice. Hopefully he will be back to 100% for this game. For the Rockets, Terrence Jones is listed as day to day with an illness.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Patrick Beverley

Shooting Guard
vs
Avery Bradley vs James Harden

Small Forward
vs
Jae Crowder vs Trevor Ariza

Power Forward
vs
Amir Johnson vs Donatas Motiejunas

Center
vs
Jared Sullinger vs Dwight Howard

Reserves
Evan Turner
RJ Hunter
Jonas Jerebko
Coty Clarke
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
James Young
Tyler Zeller
Marcus Smart


Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Injuries
Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) day to day

Reserves
Clint Capela
Corey Brewer
Jason Terry
KJ McDaniels
Sam Dekker
Michael Beasley
Montrezl Harrell
Josh Smith
Andrew Goudelock

Head Coach

J. B. Bickerstaff

Injuries

Terrence Jones (illness) day to day


Key Matchups
vs
Avery Bradley vs James Harden
James Harden is averaging 29.0 points (more than 1/4 of the Rockets' points, along with 6.4 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 1.64 steals. It will be up to Avery Bradley as well as Marcus Smart to slow Harden down. Over his last 3 games vs the Celtics, Harden has averaged 18.7 points on just 28.9% shooting. 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 Turner can get hot.

vs
Jared Sullinger vs Dwight Howard
Jared Sullinger will be tasked with trying to stop the Rockets' big man who is averaging 15.0 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 1.49 blocks. 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
Jae Crowder vs Trevor Ariza
Ariza is averaging 12.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.13 steals per game. He had 19 points in the Celtics win in Houston. He is capable of putting up big numbers and hopefully Jae will keep him from doing so in this game.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always a key to every game. Defense wins games. The Rockets average 105.8 points per game. The Celtics average just slightly more at 106.2 points per game. The Celtics need to play tough team defense to limit the Rockets' scoring.

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 so if the Celtics can run and push the pace they may be able to wear them out. They also have to get down the floor quickly and move the ball to 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. Against the Grizzlies, the announcers made a point to let us know that the Celtics didn't get any offensive rebounds through the first half. When the Celtics put out extra effort on the boards, it usually carries over into the rest of their game. 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.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics need to be aggressive in getting into the paint, in diving for loose balls, in making the 50/50 plays, in crashing the boards, in playing defense, and in their all around play. They can't play like they did in the first half vs the Grizzlies where they allow the other team to outwork them. They have to be the team that wants it more and play like it.

X-Factors

Home Factor - The Celtics have been playing very well at home and they need to continue to play hard and draw energy from the home crowd in order to keep their home win streak going. The Rockets aren't the best road team but they have won their last two on the road so the Celtics shouldn't underestimate them.

Focus and Energy Factor
- Sometimes the Celtics lose their focus and stop playing the kind of team ball that they need to play to win games, as they did in the first half against the Grizzlies. The Celtics have to stay focused from start to finish and play with energy, especially on the defensive end since often defense leads to offense and when they slack off on defense, their offense usually suffers.

Officiating Factor- The officiating is always an X-Factor. You never know if a crew will call the game tight or let them play and the team has to be able to adjust to any officiating style. And you never know when a ref will have an agenda and call it one sided for one of the teams. We can only hope for an evenly called game where they let them play.