Boston at Houston
When: 8:00 PM ET, Monday, December 5, 2016
Where: Toyota Center, Houston
HOUSTON – (Wire Service Preview by Sports Xchange for Digital Sports Desk) – The Boston Celtics have been preaching a return to the hard-nosed defensive approach that allowed them to climb the ladder in the Eastern Conference last season. They will face one of their stiffer challenges in that pursuit when they continue a three-game road trip at the Houston Rockets on Monday.
Behind another outstanding performance by Isaiah Thomas (12 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter), the Celtics squeaked past the Philadelphia 76ers 107-106 to begin the road trip Saturday night. Like Boston, the Rockets have won two straight after finishing their 4-1 road trip with a 128-110 win at Denver on Friday. Seven players scored in double figures and Houston was 17-of-37 from 3-point range, hitting their league-leading average in long-range attempts and bumping their percentage to 37.8, good for fifth in the NBA through Saturday. The Celtics ranked fifth in 3-point tries (30.8) and 10th in percentage (36) entering Sunday.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBATV, CSN New England (Boston), ROOT (Houston)
ABOUT THE CELTICS (12-8): Avery Bradley supported Thomas’ effort with 20 points of his own and he hauled in nine rebounds for the second straight game to bump his season average to 7.9, five more than his career mark. Jonas Jerebko was second on the team with six boards against the 76ers and he also hit one of his two 3-point attempts to give him a remarkable 9-of-11 showing over the last eight games. Thomas averaged 26.5 points while shooting 57.6 percent (56.3 from behind the arc) in a two-game split with Houston last season.
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (13-7): Houston’s win in Denver was all the more impressive due to the fact that it had to go to double overtime to win the night before in Golden State, and was further proof that the team has turned a corner from the dysfunction of a season ago. “A lot of positives,” coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters. “They found the energy to go ahead and finish up the game. It wasn’t always pretty. It’s a special group that can conjure that kind of energy in altitude after getting in at 5 o’clock in the morning.” It helps when there are so many shooters to call on, and Houston has made at least 10 3-pointers in an NBA-record 19 straight games.
1. Rockets F Trevor Ariza (back) left Friday’s game in Denver and is considered day-to-day.
2. Celtics C Al Horford has averaged 16.7 points in seven wins and 10.7 in three losses.
3. Rockets G James Harden has eight straight games of at least 20 points but is shooting just 35.5 percent from the field – including 5-of-22 on 3-pointers – in the last three contests.