Houston at Boston Celtics
When: 3:30 PM ET, Sunday, March 3, 2019
Where: TD Garden, Boston
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
BOSTON – The Boston Celtics ended their four-game slide with a strong finish against Washington on Friday night. They will now try to snap Houston’s four-game winning streak when the Rockets and superstar guard James Harden pay a visit for a Sunday matinee between two fifth-place teams.
The Celtics blew all of an early 15-point lead and even trailed early in the fourth quarter against the Wizards before rallying for a 107-96 triumph to end their longest losing streak of the season. “I just was happy to see the effort from everyone. Guys were diving on the floor, really getting after it,” center Al Horford — who scored a team-high 18 points — told reporters of his team’s first win since Feb. 13. That effort is imperative against Harden, who scored 45 points to lead the Rockets past the Celtics in the first meeting and is coming off a 58-point effort in a win at Miami on Thursday. The reigning MVP saw his streak of consecutive 30-point games snapped at 32 earlier in the week but he’s still hit that mark in 16 straight road contests.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (37-25): Harden hit 8-of-18 3-pointers in the win over the Heat after going 3-for-31 from beyond the arc over his previous three games, helping Houston survive without several injured rotation players and an early ejection for forward PJ Tucker. “This is a character win,” coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters. “When you get in the playoffs, that’s what counts — character and brains. And we had both of them tonight.” Guard Eric Gordon (leg), guard Iman Shumpert (calf) and forward Kenneth Faried (hip) all missed the contest and are considered day-to-day.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (38-26): Washington shot 40.4 percent from the floor, the lowest figure for a Boston opponent since Jan. 28, and turned it over 18 times as the Celtics rediscovered their defensive roots. “We needed to get back to this — making guys really shaky with the ball, questioning bringing the ball up against us. Just imposing our will,” guard Marcus Smart told reporters. “We did that tonight and that helped us a lot. We have to continue that from here on out.” Smart hit all four of his 3-point attempts en route to 16 points as Boston put seven players in double figures in the victory.
1. Harden has shot 37.7 percent in 19 career games against the Celtics, his lowest mark against any opponent.
2. Boston PG Kyrie Irving had 23 points, 11 assists and one turnover in the first meeting.
3. Houston is trying to sweep the season series for the first time since 2014-15.