Reasons to be excited about beating Boston
Houston beats Boston to get it’s 3rd win in a row as well as it’s 3rd road win in a row. Obviously this is a good victory. Typically when I talk about us winning a game, there may be 2 or 3 things I focus on as positives. But in this case there more things to talk about, so let me just go through them in list form for you.
Reasons why this win is awesome (starting with the important factors first):
1. Defense. Defense. Defense. Only 3 guys were able to score for the Celtics. Isaiah Thomas scored 30 points on 10-21 shooting. Sullinger had 24 points with 9-18. Bradley had 16 on 7-17 shooting. The rest of their team shot 8-35. The team as a whole averaged 37% shooting.
This is what the Rockets defense is supposed to look like when it’s working. They commonly allow top players to “go off” on them, but limit the role players to putrid shooting. You guys might remember in the Clippers playoff series last year, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin combined for 50 points for most of the games, but in the games we won the Clippers role players shot poorly.
1a. Transition defense. The transition defense wasn’t great, but it also wasn’t bad. Boston is a team that is near the top of the league in scoring off of turnovers. Houston as you are probably aware, turns the ball over a lot. So that combination could’ve been a lot more disasterous than it was.
2. Beating Boston in Boston. The Celtics were on a 14 game home winning streak. Houston hasn’t been that great on the road. When I initially looked at this stretch of road games (Chicago, Toronto, Philly, Boston, Charlotte). My rationale was that maybe we could beat Philly and Chicago and escape with a 2-3 record.
Then we lose to Chicago… and we’re looking at 3 more games against teams that are better than Chicago with 2 of them on back to backs. Beating Toronto on the road was big. And now that we’ve beaten Boston, we have 1 more game on this road trip against a beatable team, and even if we lose we still achieved a 3-2 record on a tough road trip. But if we win? Who would’ve predicted a week ago that we would go 4-1 on this road trip?
2a. Beating Boston after Beating Toronto. Beating both teams on the road means that it’s less likely that either of the individual wins was a fluke, which obviously is a good sign if we’re looking for reasons to believe Houston could make a run for the 6th seed.
3. Houston once again trailed at the end of the 1st quarter. But only by 6, and that was the Celtics largest lead for the game. Houston took the lead in the 2nd, and took control of the game from there. Houston is a team that is known for giving a team a huge lead early, and occasionally making a comeback in the 2nd half.
But in this case, they still went on similar 8-9 point runs in the 2nd half, but it was while they still had the lead. They were able to push the lead to double digits multiple times and it meant that they had some leeway when Boston would go on runs of their own. Things are much easier when you are playing with a lead it turns out.
4. If we were to point to one key stretch in the game, it might have to be near the end of the 3rd quarter when Harden picked up his 4th foul with 2 minutes left and the Rockets up 6. Beasley scored the Rockets last 4 points in the quarter, and then 8 of the first 10 Rockets points of the 4th. Harden didn’t have to check until the 7 minute mark, and when he did the Rockets still had a 5 point lead.
Obviously it’s a big deal that a new aquisition had a good game. But really the important part is that Harden didn’t need to check in at the 10 minute mark or 8 minute mark even. He was able to get a solid 7 minutes of rest. He still ended up playing 36 minutes this game, but considering he’s been averaging nearly 40 the past few weeks, this is a step in the right direction.
5. The offense was average. Harden got his 32 points on 19 shots. A couple of other players had solid games. But we shot 46% from the field and 19% from 3. But again, defense.