In this corner, standing at 44-19, weighing in at four games in a row, the Boston Celtics.
In the other corner, standing at 48-13, weighing in at fourteen games in a row, the Houston Rockets.
Last time these two juggernauts met, we got a show. Boston looked dead in the dust as Houston marched out to a 26-point lead. The Celtics chipped away, and eventually, this happened.
Marcus Smart > James Harden? pic.twitter.com/D95BaX3sSV
— Dois Dribles (@blogdoisdribles) December 29, 2017
James Harden is impossible to guard. He’s absolutely unreal in every facet of the game. We all saw what he did to Wesley Johnson; this man is out to ruin careers.
But the Celtics have the NBA’s leader in combat muscle and grit, Marcus Smart.
The Celtics are looking to make another power move in a season that has seen more action than most. Boston came into the All Star break on a limp but has looked like a new team the last four games.
The Rockets are just pummeling teams right now. Out of the 14 games they have in a row, nine have been double-digit wins. Houston is a serious threat to Golden State because their team is so beautifully built. Harden and Paul run the show. They are two of the best players in the league and Houston is 33-3 when both play. Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza are the shooters. Harden and Paul get into the pain and either score or dish to a wide-open shooter. If they miss, no worries. Clint Capela is one of the best rebounders in the league and is the perfect anchor for the Rockets down low. Houston might be the best team in the league.
Thankfully, the Celtics always come to play in games like this.
Kyrie Irving has been Mila Kunis-hot over his past four games.
Kyrie Irving before the All-Star break: "I have to figure out a way to get this group to another gear.”
Kyrie, including tonight, in 4 games since the All-Star break:
27.0 PTS (108 in 114 min)
53.8 FG% (39 of 67)
52.3 3PT% (19 of 35)
— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) March 1, 2018
This man is straight cooking. Irving has kicked up his play when the Celtics have needed it most. With all the glamor moves that the Cavs made at the deadline, the Celtics stood past and trusted their squad.
Kyrie is playing like a top-two point guard in the league right now. If you look past the surreal handles and ability to drive, Irving is still a top guard in the NBA. He’s shooting over 50 percent from deep since the break and he’s getting comfortable looks.
This matchup will be decided on who plays better. Sounds simple, but it’s true. When the Celtics are at their best, they can play with (and beat) anyone in the league. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum need to play well, especially on defense. Turnovers cannot be a problem or the Celtics will be marched out early. They have to play to their competition.
This game means nothing, it’s just a regular season contest. But in my mind, it means so damn much. It’s time to see the Celtics prove themselves once again, and I cannot wait.