When you have a matchup like this with two teams that are both hitting their strides at the same time, you know something will have to give. Houston and their super small-ball style of play is actually working, and really well too. Robert Covington is averaging nearly four blocks per game over the team’s last five contests, providing rim protection not seen by a wing player since Andrei Kirilenko in Utah. They will need to have both parts of their explosive starting backcourt locked in.
And for Boston, it seems they began the year with a few star-caliber players and ended up with a superstar by the end of the season. A player who has been on the roster for the whole year and the prior few. Jayson Tatum is playing the best basketball of his career, and on a team with multiple other All-Stars, he has emerged as the leader. He is proving capable of taking games over, and giving the squad whatever it needs, right when it’s needed. You absolutely love to see it.
Boston is a 1.5-point favorite on their home floor tonight. The over/under is set at 230 points.
Houston looking to blast off
As hot as they have been of late, they have to move on and prepare for tonight. With all of the playmakers and top-notch defenders Boston has, it could make things tough for them. They are expected to get Eric Gordon back, getting them to full strength for the showdown. Austin Rivers and Ben McLemore both shot the ball well last time out, giving them solid options off the bench. Jeff Green has been playing well since coming over too, with DeMarre Carroll getting some spot minutes in his second tenure with the Rockets. But only one thing matters at the end of the day.
And it is the play of Russ and Harden. Westbrookhas all but stopped firing up threes, and is attacking the rim mercilessly. Nobody has been able to stop him. And Harden is playing very well of late too, his shots starting to fall again. Beware.
Celtics looking to impress the home fans
It has been a great year for the re-tooled Celtics. Kemba was an All-Star starter. Tatum and Jaylen have both taken a leap. A healthy Gordon Hayward is impacting the game positively. And Daniel Theis has emerged as a legitimate starting big man for this club. Rookie Grant Williams is going to be the X-factor for them tonight, though. His ability to play small-ball five will matter in the games big moments if Theis doesn’t have it. He’s only 6’6 but is built to guard all five positions, and can rebound effectively too. Don’t sleep on how vital he is to their success tonight.
With Kemba still out of the lineup, Marcus Smart remains as a starter. He and Jaylen Brown will have the unenviable task of stopping Brodie and the Beard.
Celtics win a nail-biter at home
Bet on Boston! The East will reign supreme on this night.
FREE PLAY: Boston Celtics -1.5
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