Houston Rockets vs. Boston Celtics

  • Houston Rockets vs. Boston Celtics

Houston Rockets vs. Boston Celtics

And while an NBA Finals matchup might not be likely, with the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers lurking, it would be nothing short must-see TV. That 1993-94 team went on to win the NBA Championship.

Houston has one of the league's best offense, and Boston boasts the NBA's stingiest defense.

The Celtics took Round 1 after overcoming a 26-point deficit thanks to a couple late miscues from James Harden, but the Rockets delivered some payback Saturday night at Toyota Center. However, their teammates were more than happy to pick up the slack. But you need to look no further than the Celtics next game for a real gauge of where this Celtics team is at. Cleveland gave up 73 points in the first half, which was just two points shy of their worst defensive half of the season.

Russell Westbrook had 30 points and 11 rebounds for Oklahoma City, but the loss snapped a three-game winning streak.

The critical moment came when Trevor Ariza hit a three-pointer to tie the game up at 115-115 with 1:33 to play. 14 seconds later, Ariza stole a pass from Irving and took in himself for a finger roll to give the Rockets a lead they'd never relinquish. The team shot 62% from the field and 60% from three en route to a season-high 134 points.

The Celtics had a surprising start to the year, but have since tapered off. Ariza made a 3-pointer before stealing the ball from Kyrie Irving and finishing with a basket on the other end to cap the run. The Celtics couldn't let Houston run down the clock, so they fouled Chris Paul and sent him to the line hoping he'd miss. Gordon tied a season high with seven 3s and has made 12 of 25 over the last two games after missing the previous four due to an injury and an illness. Irving made a layup seconds later, but Harden made one of two free throws with 7.4 seconds left to make it 120-117.

Houston's winning streak extended to 15 games with their win over Boston on Saturday, but the visitors came close to sending the game into overtime as the final buzzer sounded, but unfortunately for them, the rim of the basket came into play. "The second half we picked it up a little more", he said. "Tonight definitely proved to us that we can win in that style of basketball, a grind-it-out type of game".

Eric Gordon led the way with 29 points with seven made three-pointers. Paul George also added 21 points.

Like Houston, their leading scorer came off the bench, Marcus Morris. Ball finished with 18 points, and Isaiah Thomas added 21 points.

"I just thought they maximized more possessions than we did", Boston coach Brad Stevens said after the game (ESPN). But they have since shown some wear and tear and have fallen behind the Toronto Raptors to the second seed in the East.

The only longer winning streak accomplished by the team is when they won 22 straight when Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady led them in the 2007-08 season. They will have a challenge on their hands when they try to extend it to 16-games Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.