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The Boston Celtics (37-15; 31-19-2 ATS) bring a seven-game winning streak to Toyota Center in Houston on Tuesday night to face off against the Houston Rockets (33-20; 25-28 ATS) who have dropped two straight games. These two interconference foes meet for the first time this season, while the Rockets have dominated the Celtics in the previous decade. Houston has won 13 of its previous 18 encounters with Boston including their last three meetings, and the Celtics are winless at Toyota Center since 2015.
The Celtics are coming to Houston without Robert Williams (hip), while Jaylen Brown (ankle) is listed as probable after missing the previous game. The Rockets are without Bruno Caboclo (knee) and Eric Gordon (shin).
Houston opened as a 2.5-point favorite at BetOnline, while the total has been set at 230.5 points at Betway. The Rockets have been listed as favorites of three or fewer points only three times this season and are 1-2 SU and ATS in the process.
What’s at Stake?
The Celtics are chasing the second-seeded Raptors in the East, trailing 1.5 games behind the reigning champions. On the other side, the Rockets are No. 5 seed in the West, 1.5 games behind the fourth-seeded Jazz and four games behind the second-seeded Nuggets, so the hosts have a lot on the table in this game.
Boston is coming off a 112-111 road victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder this past Sunday. The Celtics have one more game prior to the All-Star break and will welcome the LA Clippers on Thursday. Houston is coming off a painful 114-113 home loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday. The clash against the Celtics is their last one before the All-Star break.
Since trading Clint Capela to the Hawks and getting Robert Covington from Minnesota, the Rockets have recorded a 121-111 road win over the Lakers and a couple of losses at Phoenix 127-91 and to Utah 114-113. Houston is playing small ball, and Covington at 6’7’’ is the tallest guy in their rotation. It’s a bold experiment by the Rockets who are 15th in the league in points allowed per 100 possessions (110.2) and 18th in total rebounds surrendered (45.0).
Also, the Rockets are 25th in the league in points in the paint allowed per game (51.4), but they should cope with the Celtics just fine. Boston plays with Jayson Tatum and Grant Williams at four, but Gordon Hayward could also get some minutes at PF. Still, Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis will get a chance to score a lot against the Rockets, but they will also have to switch well on the defensive end.
The Rockets take the most 3-pointers per 100 possessions (42.2), while the Celtics surrender 33.7 attempts from deep per 100 possessions (18th in the league) on 34.5% shooting (6th). Boston’s D is one of the best in the league, allowing just 106.1 points per 100 possessions (3rd), but playing against James Harden and Russell Westbrook is a completely different story.
Against the Jazz, Harden posted a triple-double of 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, while Russell Westbrook had 39 points and six rebounds. Over his last ten outings, Westbrook has been tallying 35.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per contest.
I expect the Rockets to bounce back from two straight losses and put an end to the Celtics’ win streak. Boston’s style of play suits the Rockets well, and Houston is 7-1 SU and 5-3 ATS in its last eight home contests against the Celtics. Therefore, I’m backing the Rockets to cover a 2.5-point spread.
I would stick with the hosts and avoid betting on the totals. The line is sky-high at 230.5 points, and the Celtics will try their best to slow down the tempo and force the Rockets into half-court basketball. Also, I’ve mentioned how good is the Celtics’ D, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we get around 220 points in total. On the other hand, you never know with the Rockets and their ability to drop a bunch of treys on their opponents, so I would stay away from the totals. If you like to follow the betting trends, the under is 12-3-1 in the previous 16 encounters between Boston and Houston.
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