Celtics – Rockets Preview: How Do The Celtics Measure Up To The Competition?


The Boston Celtics return home following a tough six-game West Coast trip.  My Celtics – Rockets preview examines just how the Cs measure up the Houston Rockets.

The Houston Rockets will be without starting center Dwight Howard for the third straight game tonight – but even with the All-Star big man out, taking the Rockets down will be no small feat for the Boston Celtics.

For starters, the Celtics’ problems with teams that have size and length are well-documented.  Even with Howard out of the lineup, Boston will face size and length disadvantages at nearly every position.  That’s to be expected, when you draft and acquire nothing but guards.

For all my references and talk of size, however, the real reason the Celtics will need a super-human effort to hang with the Rockets tonight is that the Rockets are good, and Boston is not.  Duh.

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  • All of this talk about the Celtics fighting to make the playoffs is nice, and in reality, Boston DOES still have a legitimate chance to sneak into the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.  I would even go so far as saying that Boston could win a few games in the playoffs, and that the entire experience of fighting for a playoff spot and having its core of young players see what the playoffs are all about are more important than landing a top-ten pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

    Having said that, the Eastern Conference is terrible.  Minnesota Timberwolves terrible, is how I put it Wednesday.  There could be a good two to three teams with losing records playing in the Eastern Conference playoffs, for goodness sakes.  Of course Boston looks competitive back East – you could drop a few college teams in and barely notice the difference.

    The Houston Rockets, meanwhile, are not terrible, and while Boston did manage to go 3-3 on its recent West Coast road trip, it’s wins were earned against a Portland Trail Blazers team missing LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez, against a Denver Nuggets team without Ty Lawson, and a Utah Jazz team that would fit right in on the East coast.  Because they, too, suck.

    Take a look at Houston’s record: at 32-14, the Rockets are the sixth seed out West . . . but would be the second seed in the East.  The West is loaded, as we all know, and the Rockets are one of many, many good teams who could destroy people’s lives and cause women and children to weep should they get hot and find themselves healthy when playoff time rolls around.   We all know how lethal a scorer James Harden is (he is ranked third in Hollinger’s player efficiency rankings, and only leads the league in scoring and cool beards) but with eight players who average double-digit scoring per game, Houston is clearly more than just the James Harden show.

    (By way of comparison, Boston has three such players.  And Kelly Olynyk is out tonight.  You may weep, now.)

    So tonight’s game will be a reliable measuring stick by which Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge and company can assess exactly where the Celtics’ strengths and weaknesses lie.   If you head into the game with that sort of mindset, this match-up should be informative – educational, even.

    If, however, you are looking for the Celtics to win . . . God speed!

    The Game tips off at 7:30.  Watch it on CSN HD or NBA League Pass, and follow us @hoduiniceltics and here for our game reactions and general musings!