Celtics ready to take advantage of generous Rockets


‘Tis better to give than to recieve.

That is unless you are a basketball team playing on the road in a hostile enviornment – then you take whatever you can get and be greedy with your defense and hopefully escape with a win.

Ebenezer Scrooge never felt guilty about his selfishness, and neither should the Boston Celtics as they invade Houston’s Toyota Center for a matchup with the Rockets in NBA action tonight.

Dec 12, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (9) drives the ball against Dallas Mavericks point guard Darren Collison (4) during the first quarter at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

In the spirit of the season, the Houston Rockets are the most gracious givers in the National Basketball Association, allowing a robust 104.8 points per game to their opponents…

…which is very good news for a Boston Celtics team that is struggling to find consistency from their front court.  The bad news?  Houston scores at a clip of 104.2 points per game, second best in the league – and most of that coming from the perimiter

Celtics’ point guard Rajon Rondo keys everything for Boston, a point not lost on his teammates as they prepare to play the Rockets tonight in Houston at 8:00pm.

Averaging nearly 13 assists per game to go along with his 13.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, Rondo is the catalyst to the Celtics’ efforts. “We ask him to do a lot,” Pierce said. “We ask him to push it up, score and  rebound. We ask him to do a lot because he can do it.”

And while his offensive production is impressive, it is Boston’s recent stifling defense led by Rondo that translates into those points.  In the past 6 games, the Celtics are giving up a miserly 88.7 points per game while causing turnovers at a torrid pace.

In fact, they had not given up over a 100 points to an opponent during that stretch, save 117-115 double-overtime victory over Dallas on Wednesday – a game which was tied at 96 at the end of regulation and featured some defensive breakdowns when going small, but was aided by the Celtics forcing 28 turnovers overall.

“I thought our small lineup let us down,” lamented Head Coach Doc Rivers, whose team is 12-9 on the season,”we need to work on that lineup, because that’s going to be a lineup we’re going to have to use against other teams, or other teams are going to use it against us, and we might have to match it. And so we have to get better there.”

The Rockets, 10-11, will be looking to take advantage of that tonight with a lineup that features quickness and outside scoring prowess, particularly from downtown, as James Harden and Chandler Parsons put up 3 balls in volume, which will put pressure on Boston’s trapping defense.

Fortunately for the Celtics, the Rockets have their own issues with their front court scoring, so it’s not difficult to imagine why Houston is 2nd in the NBA in three point shots attempted and third in shots made from behind the arc, so the defensive philosophy for Boston tonight should be to limit the outside game of the Rockets…and try not to get into a streak of just matching baskets.