What a finish. The Celtics Rockets game was something to remember. Of course, the storyline was the Celtics rallying from down 26 to beat the Rockets by one. We’ll go a little deeper than the storyline, and dissect the game.
The first half could not have been worse for the Celtics. It may have been some of the worst basketball they played.
We were not making nearly enough of their shots. We had some good shots, which were pretty open sometimes, but we could not put them down. I think Brad Stevens summed it up pretty good during a timeout when he said the Celtics were setting up their teammates for the things they were bad at, and not the things they were good at.
Next, our starting five was not looking what it was supposed to in the first half. Baynes kept turning the ball over and not getting the rebounds he was supposed to. Horford was turning the ball over as well. They were just not doing their job. We really missed the athleticism and energy of Jaylen Brown. Even Semi Ojeleye would have been good off of the bench. He’s always been good at getting this team going, so he really is a key part of this team.
Brad Stevens then made the decision of putting in Abdul Nader in as his sixth man. In 21 minutes, he put up 5 points and grabbed 7 rebounds (3 offensive), so pretty good production, but I really would’ve liked to see Morris, or even Rozier as the sixth man. But nothing Brad was doing in the first half was working, so this one was really on the players.
Overall the first half could not have been worse. The Rockets went on an unnecessarily long run, which Boston just could not stop. Houston was playing on another level than the Celtics. To top it off, we were playing this bad against a Rockets team without CP3 and Clint Capela, so just inexcusable.
Then in the second half, everything came to life for the Celtics.
The first three minutes were okay for Boston. We were making the shots we needed to, but so were the Rockets. Although, Harden was not playing at the level he needed to, and we took advantage of that.
Then after that, the Celtics go on a run. We showed more emotion. The crowd somehow got renewed energy. The crowd came to life and was just powering our team to get the shots off. You knew the crowd was into it when they started the MVP chants when Kyrie came to the line. The Rockets could not contain the Celtics or play defense on them. The Celtics played great defense however, and got many steals.
Let’s talk a little about the referees. I’m not going to be that one guy that blames every little thing on the refs, but the calls were pretty bad. I know it was only a two-man reffing team (because of one of the refs having back spasms). Irving, Smart, and Harden all spoke after the game about it. Kyrie and Smart expressed that they took advantage of the reffing situation, and Harden complained. Harden has not been on the refs’ side lately. But it was a good idea by the Celtics to take advantage, especially by getting two charges called on Harden after Smart drew them (and they may or may not have been flops) at the end of the game. Smart played it perfectly by flopping at the exact right time, and then after seeing Harden’s frustration after Horford’s game-winner, Smart again fell to the ground, but the second charge did seem legitimate, despite Harden’s clueless face afterwards. I do hope Smart is okay though, because he took a lot of shots and played really hard. After the game, Horford told the media that Smart was banged up pretty bad physically. But, this was really the most Marcus Smart ending we could have had. Also, how about Brad Stevens getting a technical foul. I actually loved seeing him get fired up, and although it could have cost us the game, he showed his frustration for the bad calls.
Rozier and Morris came up big this game. Rozier has been putting up great numbers in his limited minutes, and is getting more intelligent game after game. Example? Harden got Horford to switch on him, but Rozier immediately switched back (really by pushing Horford to his man) realizing Horford hasn’t really had any luck guarding Harden. He had two great threes and continues to use his athleticism to his advantage. Morris put up 10 key points (late in the game) in 13 minutes. He did go above his restricted minutes, so I do hope he did not hurt his knee… again.
Larkin was playing hard as well. He drew a few charges and got a few steals. He was playing great defense, and his minutes (15) should prove that he did play well.
Finally towards the end of the game, the Celtics came up big. Kyrie goes into the game with Horford (Stevens knows they have great chemistry). Of course Horford gets the game-winning shot. He really made up for missing the game-winner last year against the Rockets. Remember? When he missed a layup. Smart did good towards the end, when he drew the fouls on Harden which iced the game. He also took a three with 42 seconds left, which I did not really understand, but, oh well.
This was a great game by both teams, but only good in one half. The Celtics came on top after the monster second half, but props to the Rockets for putting up a great fight.