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Celtics look to get back on track as they host the Houston Rockets

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The Celtics host the Houston Rockets for the second and final meeting of the season as they look to end their 3 game losing streak. .

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
at
Houston Rockets (34-14) at Boston Celtics (26-18)
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #45, Road Game #22
TV: CSN-NE, ROOT, NBA-LP 753 DTV/752 xfinity
Radio: 98.5 the Sports Hub, 790 AM KBME
TD Garden
Referees: David Guthrie, Derrick Collins, Dedrick Taylor

The Celtics return home to host the Houston Rockets for their only visit to Boston this season. The Celtics lost a close game 107-106 in Houston when Al Horford's layup didn't fall on their last possession back in December. The Celtics are 13-8 at home while the Rockets are 17-9 on the road. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 while the Rockets are 5-5 in their last 10 games.

The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games while the Rockets last played on Monday when they lost 127-114 to the Bucks. The Celtics are 6-3 on the second night of back to backs and 2-1 when the games are road and then home.

The Celtics have prided themselves on having great chemistry on the court and off of it but at the end of Tuesday's game against the Wizards, Marcus Smart was seen yelling and screaming at the coaches and that isn't a good look. There was also a hole punched in the locker room wall by an unknown Celtic, which I would guess to be Marcus Smart.
I have no doubt that if they can somehow find that us against the world mentality that they had last season when teams feared their defense and physical play, they can beat just about any team in the league. If they don't get back to that mentality and physical style of play, they are going to continue to struggle. They need to get past their frustration and get back to playing harder than the competition with that swagger and edge and find their chemistry once again if they want to start winning again. . They need to get past their frustration and get back to playing harder than the competition with that swagger and edge and find their chemistry once again if they want to start winning again.

The Celtics will once again be without Avery Bradley who had 16 points and 10 rebounds in the first meeting between these two teams. Gerald Green and Demetrius Jackson are questionable with the illness that has been going through the team. The Rockets are at full strength with no injuries reported.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Patrick Beverley

Shooting Guard
vs
Marcus Smart vs James Harden

Small Forward

vs
Jae Crowder vs Trevor Ariza

Power Forward

vs
Al Horford vs Ryan Anderson

Center

vs
Amir Johnson vs Clint Capela

Reserves
Celtics Reserves
Jaylen Brown
Terry Rozier
James Young
Jonas Jerebko
Tyler Zeller
Jordan Mickey
Kelly Olynyk

Injuries

Gerald Green (illness) questionable
Demetrius Jackson (illness) questionable
Avery Bradley (Achilles) out

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Reserves
Eric Gordon
Corey Brewer
Bobby Brown
Sam Dekker
Tyler Ennis
Montrezl Harnell
KJ McDaniels
Nene
Chinanu Onuaku
Kyle Wiltjer

Injuries
None

Head Coach
Mike D'Antoni


Key Matchups

vs
Marcus Smart vs James Harden
James Harden is averaging 28.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 11.6 assists and 1.4 steals. It will be up to Marcus to try to slow Harden down. Harden had 37 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists in the first meeting between these two teams. Harden is not known for playing great defense and so the Celtics may be able to take advantage of that if Smart can get hot.

vs
Terry Rozier vs Eric Gordon
This will be a battle of 6th men. Eric Gordon is averaging 17.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists off the bench. He is 2nd in the league behind Steph Curry with 166 3-pointers this season. Gorden scored 19 in the first meeting. Rozier will need to slow him down while adding some offense of his own for the Celtics.

Honorable Mention
Jae Crowder vs Trevor Ariza
Ariza is averaging 12.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.9 steals. He scored 15 in the last game between these two teams and is capable of having a big game if not guarded closely. He can score both inside and out and so Jae needs to stay with him.


Keys to the Game

Defense - Defense is always a key to every game. Defense wins games. The Rockets are 2nd in the league in scoring at 114.5 ppg. The Celtics are 9th and averaging 107.3 ppg. The Celtics allowed 123 points against the Wizards and allowed easy baskets all night. The Celtics absolutely need to get back to playing hard nose gritty defense. They acknowledged after the Wizards game that they remember back to when they were a team that opponents feared playing because of their tough physical play and gritty defense. They also acknowledge that they no longer play that way. The Celtics need to get back to playing tough team defense and limit the Rockets' scoring if they expect to get a win in this game.

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 the Rockets to own the boards, which will limit the Celtics fast breaks as well as their second chance points. Houston averages 44.1 rebounds while the Celtics average 41.2 rebounds per game. When the Celtics put out extra effort on the boards, it usually carries over into the rest of their game.

Limit Turnovers - The Celtics are averaging just 12.6 turnovers per game while the Rockets are averaging 15.5 turnovers per game. But the Celtics seem to go through stages in games where they lose focus and turn the ball over time and again. The Rockets will make them pay for each turnover and so they have to take care of the ball.

Energy and Aggressiveness - The Celtics need to play physical ball and be aggressive on both ends of the court. They have to come out and play hard from start to finish with no let up. They have to be aggressive and they have to play like the team that wants it more.

X-Factors

Home Game and Back to Back - The Celtics are playing at home once again and need to get a boost from the always supportive crowd at the Garden. They are also playing on the second night of back to back games. Fatigue could be a factor for the Celtics, but hopefully the home crowd can give them a boost.

Officiating - Officiating is always an x-factor. Will they call it evenly or favor the home team? Will they let them play or call every ticky tack foul? Will they give Harden preferential treatment as a star? All of these factors can shift a game for one team or the other.