Boston at Houston
Time: 8:30 PM CST (TNT)
Spread: HOU -3
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Houston Rockets enter as losers of its last two games and host the Boston Celtics in the second half of a Tuesday night TNT doubleheader. The Rockets is 3-point favorites in the game, with the over/under set at 233 total points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes.
The Boston Celtics are clearly a better team without Kyrie Irving. Boston is 37-15 and is currently seeded No. 3 in the Eastern Conference.
Kemba Walker has stepped into the role of No. 1 scorer, and he is averaging 21.6 points and 5.2 assists in his first season as a Celtic. Jayson Tatum, too, has stepped it up in his third season. The former Duke swingman is averaging 20.9 points and seven rebounds per game. And if that was not enough, Jaylen Brown has taken on a much bigger scoring role in averaging just under 20 points per game. Adding to this trio, Gordon Hayward is progressing well from his surgery and should be back in the lineup soon. The C’s are locked and loaded and absolute contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Boston averages 111.2 points per game this season while continuing to play its tough brand of defense. The team shoots 45.8 percent from the floor and 35.4 percent on threes (33.5 attempts per game). Boston also is still waiting for eventual-starting center Enes Kanter to round into shape following an injury to starting the season. Kanter has shown bright flashes, but his consistency is something the C’s are trying to figure out. Daniel Theis performed admirably in his absence, but Kanter will bring a scoring punch to the 5-spot that Theis and Robert Williams III cannot.
Marcus Smart continues to function well as a jack-of-all-trades sixth man, or a “stretch-6” as he called himself in the preseason. Smart is averaging 11.4 points and 4.7 assists per game and can provide defense at all positions. The Celtics depth is functional— in the sense that its backups provide different looks and strengths than its starters. Carsen Edwards has looked good in limited minutes and will be a solid backup for Walker for the first three seasons of his NBA career. The Celtics just have a lot going on, and even without Hayward and Kanter, this team has rolled to a .750 winning percentage thus far.
HOUSTON news & notes:
The Houston Rockets have won five of its last 10, at 33-20 and seeded No. 5 in the Western Conference. It has just a one game lead on No. 6 OKC.
James Harden is averaging a silly 38.2 points per game on the season with 7.5 assists to his credit as well. He is connecting on 38 percent of his threes and 46 percent of his field goals while turning it over an “almost excusable” 4.7 times per game. It is excusable simply because Harden produces so much that it is a mere corollary of the ball being in his hands most of the time.
Westbrook has fared well as a Rocket, though. He is shooting 43 percent from the floor while posting per-game averages of 24.2 points, 8 rebounds, 7.1 assists, and 1.9 blocks/steals in 35 minutes a night. The Rockets thus far appear to have great chemistry, which was something that was both developed quickly and unexpected by many naysayers and pundits who mostly felt that Harden and Westbrook would be unable to share the ball well together. Due to the fact that both rely on having the ball in their hands to create offense, it remains to be seen how long and how well this pairing of Westbrook and Harden works.
The pair once was together in OKC, but neither is used to the role they respectively played during that time. Westbrook has averaged eight assists per game over the last two, and his minutes seem to be locked in at 33 to 35 per game, which should take some of the load off of it, in the name of the ever-present “load management.”
The Rockets have also got more offense out of center Clint Capela this season. He is averaging 13.9 points, 14.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks/steals per game. PJ Tucker has seen his role offensively increase, and he is taking advantage, averaging 8.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Eric Gordon has seen his role change with Westbrook aboard, and he is not doing as much as he had in the past two seasons, either.