Celtics Begin Tough Road Trip in Houston

[image] at [image]

Boston Celtics (43-24) at Houston Rockets (35-31)
Friday, March 19
8:30 PM ET
Game #68, Road Game #35
Toyota Center
Referees:   Joe DeRosa,  Leon Wood, Greg Willard 

he Celtics begin on a very tough stretch of games starting with this game in Houston.  This is the first of back to back games with the second in Dallas on Saturday.  This stretch includes 3 games in 4 nights and starting with this game, the Celtics face 8 straight Western Conference teams including two games against this Rockets team.  The 9th game in this stretch is the final meeting between the Celtics and Cavaliers.  Only one team in the next 9 games has a losing record, and that is the young and athletic Kings team that will present its own set of challenges. This is the first meeting between the Celtics and Rockets. The Rockets have struggled with injuries this season but are healthy except for Yao Ming, who  has been out all season.  They  helped themselves at the trade deadline by swapping Tracy McGrady for Kevin Martin and are now making a run at the playoffs.  They currently sit 9th in the West, 4.5 games behind the Portland Trailblazers and are just half a game ahead of the Grizzlies who are in the 10th spot. 

The Rockets are 20-14 at home and 6-4 in their last 10 games, but have won 4 in a row.  The Celtics are 22-12 on the road and 7-3 in their last 10 games.  The Celtics have won 2 in a row and 3 of their last 4 games. They have had 3 blowouts in their last 4 games but all against lottery teams.   This next stretch of games  will be a very important barometer to tell us where the Celtics really are going into the playoffs.   A win against Houston would be a great first step.  

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
[image] vs [image]
Rajon Rondo vs Aaron Brooks

Shooting Guard
[image] vs [image]
Ray Allen vs Kevin Martin

Small Forward
[image] vs [image]
Paul Pierce vs Trevor Ariza

Power Forward
[image] vs [image]
Kevin Garnett vs Louis Scola


[image] vs [image]
Kendrick Perkins vs Chuck Hayes

Key Matchups
[image] vs [image]
Rajon Rondo vs Aaron Brooks
Aaron Brooks is averaging over 20 points and 5 assists per game in his 3rd season with the Rockets. Rondo will need to stay in front of Brooks on defense and try to limit his shots. He also needs to continue to look to distribute the ball and get the other starters involved early.

[image] vs [image]
Ray Allen vs Kevin Martin
Before the trade deadline, there was a lot of talk of the Celtics trading Ray for Kevin Martin. Instead, Martin went to the Rockets and Ray stayed a Celtic. Both have been shooting the ball well and Ray will need to play defense along with hitting his shots since Martin has been averaging over 20 points per game.

Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett vs Louis Scola
KG has been getting closer to the KG of old and he will need to bring his defense to keep Scola from getting easy baskets inside. KG also has a height advantage over Scola and should be able to get his shot off over him.
Keys to the Game
Ball Movement
Be Aggressive
Play 48 Minutes

On the Road Again
The Celtics have played better on the road this season than at home. However, their last 3 home games have been won in blowouts. Let's hope that home success hasn't reversed their earlier ability to win on the road.

[Discuss on CG Forums!]