NBA Preview and Free Pick
Houston visits Boston for a Sunday afternoon non-conference tilt at TD Garden. First tip is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET. The Celtics play host coming off a victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night. The Rockets aim to extend their current four-game winning streak behind the historic season of guard James Harden. NBA Preview and Free Pick: Celtics -3 vs Rockets.
The Rocket All-Star guard, Harden, connected on 8-of-18 3-pointers in the win over the Miami Heat on Thursday night. His positive shooting touch in the team’s win over Miami followed a 3-for-31 shooting slump from beyond the arc over his previous three games. Houston prevailed in the game against the Heat without several injured players and an early game ejection of forward PJ Tucker.
Sunday afternoon’s event in Boston finds F Kenneth Faried (hip) listed as probable, G Eric Gordon (knee) also probable for the game. In addition guards Gerald Green (illness) and Iman Shumpert (calf) are unlikely to dress.
Few game night variables have come easy for the Celtics as of late. The squad melted with a 15-point lead against the Wizards in Friday night’s affair. Boston not only lost the 15-point advantage but found themselves trailing in the fourth quarter. Veteran center Al Horford rallied the troop for a 107-96 triumph to end their longest losing streak of the season.
Horford scored a team-high 18 points in Friday night’s win won’t be asked to contain Harden who scored 45 points to lead the Rockets past the Celtics in the first meeting this year. However, Boston defensive stalwart Marcus Smart will have the responsibility of smothering Harden at times on Sunday afternoon. “We needed to get back to this — making guys really shaky with the ball, questioning bringing the ball up against us. Just imposing our will,” Smart told reporters in Thursday night’s post-game presser.
Smart hit all four of his 3-point attempts en route to 16 points as Boston put seven players in double figures in the win over the Wiz. Boston PG Kyrie Irving had 23 points, 11 assists and one turnover in the first meeting.
Houston has not swept a two-game season series against Boston since the 2014-15 season and will fail for the fifth straight campaign. Free Pick is a play on the Celtics on the Boston TD Garden parquet.