at Boston Celtics (2-1) at Houston Rockets (3-0) Tuesday, November 4 8:30 PM ET Game #4, Road Game #2 TV: NBA-TV, RTV, FSN Hou, CSN HD Radio: WEEI Toyota Center
When the Celtics and Rockets squared off in the preseason, it got really physical. The Rockets made it clear that they were going to be physical and the Celtics weren't going to be pushed around. In the Celtics' 90-89 win, there were 4 technicals and a lot of elevated tempers. Ron Artest showed why he is one of the dirtiest players in the league when he gave Pierce a hard hit in the neck and he will likely live up to that reputation in this game as well. Surprisingly, Tracy McGrady seemed willing to take on Artest's style and gave a couple of hard hits as well. Bill Walker gave the Celtics a spark in that game and stood up to McGrady and let him know he wouldn't be pushed around. I'd love to see Walker play in this game but since he has been inactive for the first 3 games, it doesn't look like that will happen.
The Celtics lead the all time series between these two teams 83-39. The Celtics swept the series last season for the first time since 1990-91. The most notable win came in Houston where the Celtics ended Houston's 22 game win streak.
The Rockets had a very good team last season and they are deep as evidenced by their ability to withstand some critical injuries and still win. With the addition of Ron Artest and Brent Barry, they are now figured by many to challenge for the title this season. If they can stay healthy, they will definitely be among the favorites to come out of the West. A rematch of the 1986 Finals could be on tap if everything goes as expected for these two teams. Probable Starting Matchups Point Guard Rajon Rondo vs Raefer Alston Shooting Guard Ray Allen vs Tracy McGrady
Small Forward Paul Pierce vs Ron Artest
Power Forward Kevin Garnett vs Louis Scola
Center Kendrick Perkins vs Yao Ming
Key Matchups vs Paul Pierce vs Ron Artest is one of the best matchups in the NBA. Artest will do anything to gain an edge including pulling Pierce's shorts down. When Pierce is on, nobody can stop him so it makes for a very intense matchup between these two.
vs Tracy McGrady is healthy and once again a major weapon for the Rockets, averaging 18 points and almost 6 assists per game. Ray's McGrady isn't known as a defensive stopper though and if Ray Allen can find his shot, he could win this battle of shooters.
Honorable Mention Kendrick Perkins vs Yao Ming While no one has the height to match up with Yao, Perk has proved he has the strength to hold him off and bother his shots. Yao is healthy and is averaging over 22 points and 11 rebounds per game. Perk and the Celtics team defense will need to keep Yao from dominating inside. X-Factor Road Woes - With their beat down in Indiana, the Celtics have continued their struggles on the road that began in the playoffs last season. Let's hope that the loss in Indy was a wake up call and the Celtics will bring their defense and their passing game to Houston. If not, we may see another ugly game.
We should beat the Rockets despite the Artest pickup, however, the Perk/Yao matchup is gonna be another key factor in his game. If he can be somewhat controlled, I have little doubt Boston pulls this one out.