Celtics Hoping to Shoot Down Rockets

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Houston Rockets (37-37) at Boston Celtics (47-27)
Friday, April 2
7:30 PM ET
Game #75, Home Game #38
TV: FSH, CSN-NE, NBA-LP 757-758
TD Garden
Referees:   Eddie F Rush,  Pat Fraher,  Leroy Richardson

The Celtics are reeling from an embarrassing blow out on their own court at the hands of the Spurs and a heartbreaking loss to the Thunder that had as much to do with the officiating as it did their failure to play consistent defense. A third straight loss on their home court would be inexcusable for this team.

While the Rockets are out of the playoffs, the Celtics are still jockeying for position. They dropped to one game behind the Hawks for that important 3rd seed when they lost to the Thunder while the Hawks beat the Lakers. The Hawks will be playing in Cleveland on Friday and so there is a chance that the Celtics could pull even with the Hawks again if they can pull out a win and if the Cavs don't tube their game.

With Rondo needing just 1 assist to tie Bob Cousy's record for assists in a season, it will be a record breaking night and probably an emotional one for Rondo. Hopefully the hoopla surrounding the record changing hands won't distract from the Celtics mission of winning the game.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
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Rajon Rondo vs Aaron Brooks

Shooting Guard
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Ray Allen vs Jermaine Taylor

Small Forward
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Paul Pierce vs Trevor Ariza

Power Forward
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Kevin Garnett vs Louis Scola


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Kendrick Perkins vs Chuck Hayes

Key Matchups
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Rajon Rondo vs Aaron Brooks
Aaron Brooks is having a very good season, his third in the league. He is quick and can put points up quickly if left open. Rondo will need to stay in front of him and play defense and also keep the Celtics offense moving smoothly.

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Ray Allen vs Jermaine Taylor
With Kevin Martin questionable for this game with a shoulder injury, Jermaine Taylor is projected to start. When the Celtics played the Rockets early in March, Taylor was in the D-League. Hopefully Ray will be able to use his veteran wiles to get the best of this matchup.

Honorable Mention
Paul Pierce vs Trevor Ariza
We have seen that Paul Pierce is very important to anything that this team hopes to do in the post season. Pierce and Ariza have had some very good battles in the past and Pierce must be aggressive in this game going strong to the basket and setting the tone for his team.

Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics have been slacking off on defense again, allowing the Thunder to hit way too many easy shots. It is very important that the Celtics find their defensive identity once again as defense becomes even more important in the playoffs.

Rebounding - The Celtics were once again out-rebounded 36-32 against the Thunder. They must make a conscious effort to crash the boards. They allow too many second chance points and fast breaks when they allow the opponent to out- rebound them.

Ball Movement - The Celtics are tough to beat when they keep the ball moving and find the open man. It is when the ball gets stagnant and players try to do too much and the ball stops moving that the Celtics struggle to score and look vulnerable.

Be Aggressive - Too many times we see the Celtics get beat to loose balls and rebounds and settle for jumpers. the Celtics have to be aggressive in going after loose balls, grabbing rebounds and taking the ball to the basket. They have to set the tone for the game.

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics can't afford to come out sluggish or to slack off after the half. They have to come out strong and play for 48 minutes without let up. The bench has to continue where the starters leave off and give the team a boost when they come in.

Referees: Eddie F Rush, Pat Fraher, Leroy Richardson
We have seen in several games lately that the officiating has affected the game. It all depends on whether Herr Stern wants the Celtics to win or not whether they get a fair shake. Free throw differentials like 34-17 or 45-9 take the enjoyment out of a game and don't give the team not getting the calls a fair chance.

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