Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Celtics' Marcus Smart discusses challenge of defending James Harden

Boston Celtics vs Houston Rockets: Lineups, preview & prediction 3/3/18 Rockets look to get revenge against Celtics
Eugene Bates | 07 March, 2018, 00:20

Erik Williams - USA TODAY Sports.

During the fourth quarter, the Celtics led by as much as six points with four minutes to play, but that didn't phase the Rockets. In their first matchup, the Rockets got up big - 26 to be exact - but the Celtics fought back with their defense. It will be played at a playoff intensity, which often keeps scores lower, but Boston have been an offensive-minded team of late, and the Rockets are better at scoring than everyone in the league excluding the Warriors.

Russell Westbrook had 30 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, but it was CJ McCollum's 28 points and eight rebounds which led the Trail Blazers to a 108-100 win over Oklahoma City Thunder.

When the two teams met three days after Christmas in Boston, the Rockets dominated the Celtics, putting up 62 points in the first half and holding Boston to 38.

The Celtics carried that momentum into the fourth quarter as they continued their rally with good shot selection from the floor and defense that ultimately led to Houston shooting 25 percent from the floor in the second half. The shooting troubles were the only negative on a night where outside of Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies didn't seem all that interested in competing.

Kyrie Irving made 6-of-17 from the field for 18 points during a 123-120 loss in Houston on Saturday, adding three rebounds, six assists, one steal and two 3-pointers.

Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball had 18 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds, but more importantly, Los Angeles handed the Spurs a 116-112 defeat. With the leading man for each team having an off night, other guys stepped up big.

Along with Irving, Brown and Tatum are combining for over 27 points per game, followed by Horford with almost 13, Marcus Morris with 12, and both Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart averaging just over 10 respectively.

The Celtics shot 48.4 per cent overall and finished 13-for-24 on three-point tries.

The bench needs to prove that they can maintain this, but we are finally at a point where things are going to settle. Four of the Rockets losses this year have come against those seven teams.

Houston played that night without starters Chris Paul and Clint Capela and reserve swingman Luc Mbah a Moute.

The Rockets have been able to win on the road or at home, against lottery teams or contenders, and in close games or blowouts.

Anthony Davis is playing really good this season and his game stats are absurd, he has put up 53 points and 18 rebounds against Phoenix Suns, 45 points, 17 rebounds, five steals and five blocks game against the Miami Heat, 42 points and 15 rebounds against Los Angeles Lakers, and that are just some of his incredible performances. A minute later, another turnover led to a game-tying three by Ariza.

Irving and Paul hit two free throws each before Irving made one and purposely missed the second with 2.8 seconds left.

James Harden and the Rockets will be a tough test for the Celtics Saturday night.

The Celtics (44-19) continue to hang their hat on defense, but their offense since the season resumed has been outstanding.

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