*This game preview was written by one of our new contributors, David Allen (@DavidZAllen614 on Twitter)* – Ed.
8 PM Eastern Time
Watch on TNT, ATSW
The improving Celtics (20-13) come into Toyota Center to face the resilient Rockets (18-15) tonight after winning a tough OT match versus the Sixers where Kyrie dropped a 40-burger. The Rockets themselves are coming off a solid home victory over the Thunder. Both teams have identical records (7-3) in the last 10 games, and both teams are working to get back to the top of their respective conferences. The Celtics have just gotten back Al Horford while the Rockets still do not have Chris Paul or James Ennis.
James Harden has been having a very typical MVP season. With splits of 32/5.7/8.4, he has been absolutely breaking down defenses throughout the league. Kyrie is having a legendary season already. Kyrie’s +/- is a blistering 7.5 and he is shooting an incredible 41.7% from deep. In the game against the Sixers, Kyrie had an incredible WPA (win probability added) of 48.6%. (For reference: in the Rockets game versus the Thunder where Harden dropped 41, he had a WPA of 13%. Reference: Inpredictable.com).
Things to Watch For:
- Austin Rivers….is playing well.
Never mind the supposed beef between CP and him, Austin Rivers immediately became a contributor off the bench in his first game back, scoring clutch 3’s and also pouring in the highest WPA of the game (!) at 14%. He also had the Rockets’ high +/- of 6. Playing an impressive 31 minutes, Rivers may be just the guard depth the Rockets needed to hit the next level while CP is out.
- Danuel House is balling in cool statistical ways
Danuel House may have only scored 9 points in his last game, but he had the third highest WPA at 10% and was tied for second on the team with a +/- of 5. He continues to hustle and be an explosive player to watch moving forward. I’m very excited about his future with the Rockets.
- Gary Clark…is still not playing minutes consistently.
Even after a very solid performance from Clark in the San Antonio game where Clark had a +/- of 9 (second on the team) and a positive WPA of 0.03, he played no minutes in the game against the Thunder. This is likely due to the addition of Austin Rivers; however, Clark’s defensive game is a solid attribute to have on the floor and with the numerous offensive weapons that Boston has this year, it stands to reason Clark could play some meaningful minutes guarding the perimeter tonight.