Houston Rockets vs. Boston Celtics - 3/3/18 NBA Pick, Odds, and Prediction

05 March, 2018, 01:01 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart relishes chances to defend James Harden

Eric Gordon scored 29 points off the bench, James Harden had 26 points and 10 assists, and the Rockets outlasted the Boston Celtics 123-120 on Saturday night to extend their winning streak to a season-high 15 games. That's a good sign for Celtics fans, as Boston has struggled in recent months. In the end, the team won thanks to-you guessed it-defense.

Despite all the lead changes, Houston trailed for much of the night, and when Terry Rozier canned a 3-pointer with 4:01 to play, the deficit was at six, and it should've been more, but Kyrie Irving's reverse layup 57 seconds later rimmed out, and the Rockets took advantage.

As the players had all said leading into this one, this wasn't a playoff game.

"Defense (is) what it boiled down to", Gordon said.

"In the first half they were getting a lot of easy looks, they made us scramble defensively". "We're not at a time to relax at all", James Harden told the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen. He is averaging 24.9 points on 49.2% shooting, 5.1 assists, and 1.1 steals, though his play has been better than his stats suggest.

Since the break, the Celtics bench ranks first in the league in minutes played, first in scoring, second in field goal percentage, fourth in 3-point percentage, first in rebounding and second in net rating (plus-5.6). It may be close once again, but the Rockets will be too good at home and will escape from the clutches of the Celtics in the final half of the last quarter. He made both to put the Rockets up by four 119-115. Irving made a layup seconds later, but Harden made one of two free throws with 7.4 seconds left to make it 120-117.

Kyrie Irving tried to miss the second free throw both times to give his team a chance at the offensive rebound, but failed on each occasion. Marcus Smart's desperation three-pointer at the buzzer - after hauling in a full-court pass, turning and firing in about two seconds - stunningly drew iron but did not fall.

This will be an entertaining game and will go well past the 99-98 total we saw when the sides last met.


Marcus Morris led the Celts with 21 points, while Kyrie Irving and Greg Monroe added 18 apiece. The Rockets didn't have Chris Paul or Clint Capela in that game, but they will suit up tonight.

In a league dominated by fast-paced offense and talented scorers, the Boston Celtics serve as a good reminder that defense still wins championships.

Along with Irving, Brown and Tatum are combining for over 27 points per game, followed by Horford with almost 13, Marcus Morris with 12, and both Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart averaging just over 10 respectively. Paul George added 21 points.

"I just thought they maximized more possessions than we did", Boston coach Brad Stevens said.

Paul Millsap hit a lead-saving 3-pointer with 2:26 remaining, sending Denver to a victory over host Cleveland.

With the lead having already switched hands four times in the game's first five minutes, Trevor Ariza hit a 3-pointer to put the Rockets back on top 14-13, starting a 16-7 run that put the Rockets up 30-22, but Boston scored the final 10 points of the quarter, and scored the first four points of the second.

CJ McCollum scored 28 points and Damian Lillard had 20 as the Portland Trail Blazers won their sixth straight game with a 108-100 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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