Jan 9, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale against the New Orleans Hornets during the second half of a game at the New Orleans Arena. The Hornets defeated the Rockets 88-79. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics vs. Houston Rockets Game Preview

The Boston Celtics will take on the Houston Rockets in the TD Garden tonight at 7:30 ET. They’ll need to hold one of the leagues top 5 offenses down if they want to have a shot at winning this game. With Boston’s play on the defensive end as of late, that seems possible. They’ve held their opponents to only 82.8 points per game. Avery’s return seems to have given Boston an obvious jolt that they’ll be able to use for tonight’s game as well.

The Celtics bench has been playing extremely well as of late and they’ll need to do the same tonight. Houston’s second unit isn’t one of the most daunting, but they’re more than respectable. They all play their roles well and contribute to the offensive attack. One area that they’re lacking in is defense. If the Celtics can take advantage of them on the offensive end of the floor, they’ll win this game.

Five Keys to the Game

1. Avery Bradley must stay with James Harden

That’s going to be the most important match up of the night. James Harden is the focal point of the Houston Rockets offense. If you can take him out of the game then you’ll likely win it. Avery is going to need to be ready to fight through screens set by Omer Asik and other Houston bigs. Harden loves to get the ball on high screens and wing screens and take it to the rim. He might be the best at doing that in the league and then drawing a foul. He averages 10 trips to the line per game, so Avery has to be careful not to foul.

2. Watch for shooters

The Celtics are going to have to stay home on their man against this Houston Rockets team. They take the 2nd most threes in the league with 989 threes and they make 359 of those threes which also ranks second most in the NBA. They’ve got the 5th ranking eFG% in the league at .519 and they rank 1st in the league in pace. They aren’t afraid to jack up shots from beyond the arch and they’ll be certain to try to create looks from there for themselves.

3. Get Rajon Rondo going

As I mentioned before, the Rockets play at the leagues fastest pace. In order to keep up with that pace so you can control the tempo you need to get Rondo going. He hasn’t had many good games in his last few and will need to have one tonight. The Celtics have to control the pace and Rondo is one of the best players in the league at doing that.

4. REBOUND

This Rockets team is 7th in the NBA in total rebounding. The C’s will need to make sure to box out and grab boards on defense if anything. We know that this team is historically allergic to rebounding, but beating the Rockets they may need to concentrate on this to eliminate extra possessions.

5. Take Omer Asik away from the rim

Omer Asik gets 11.1 rebounds per game at the center position. He scores 10 points on about seven shots per game and shoots 52% from the field. Its easy to see that most of his opportunity comes from the rim, so the Celtics have to be sure to keep him away from there. That means Kevin Garnett is going to have to stretch the floor tonight.

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