Wednesday, March 29, 2023

NBA Preview: Boston Celtics (47-21) at Houston Rockets (15-52)

As the final stretch of the season got underway, the Boston Celtics lost their position at the top of the Eastern Conference due to four losses in five games and a monster winning streak led by the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Celtics’ response to their sudden vulnerability, which was the first glaring example of adversity faced by Boston this season, was certainly interesting.

With their 134-125 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in the first game of a six-game road trip that continues on Monday against the Houston Rockets, the Celtics appeared to have regained their footing.

In its rout of the Hawks, Boston shot 54.7 percent from the floor, made 20 of 42 3-pointers, and missed only two free throws, proving that any speculation regarding fallibility was premature.

Jayson Tatum (34 points, 15 rebounds, and six assists against the Hawks) and Jaylen Brown (24 points, seven assists, and two steals) typically play a significant role in this formula, as do the Celtics’ numerous veteran options. During an 82-game season, even the league’s best teams stray from the path. The most important thing is always to get back on track.

Houston experienced a third back to back misfortune and tumbled to 2-7 since the Elite player break with a 119-111 home difficulty to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, one that included another late-game breakdown.

The Rockets were successful in keeping the Bulls at bay after taking a 13-point lead early in the second quarter. They were able to stop Chicago after the deficit fell to one point later in the first half and even after the Bulls pulled even twice in the fourth quarter.

The Rockets took a 106-102 lead when reserve guard Josh Christopher made a three-point play with 5:40 left in the game. After Houston missed six shots in a row and committed three turnovers, the Bulls took control with a 13-0 run, giving Chicago its first lead since the game’s opening basket.

By coming unraveled down the stretch, the Rockets tarnished one more adjusted scoring assault that highlighted seven players in twofold figures paced by youngster forward Jabari Smith Jr., who matched a group high 20 focuses with 10 bounce back.

Houston’s egalitarian offensive strategy has resulted in modest success recently. Against the Bulls, the Rockets assisted on 28 of their 41 made field goals, but their progress was hampered by miscues and a late cold snap.

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