After failing to measure up to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday the Boston Celtics have taken advantage of playing on their home court. They have gotten back to what they consider to be Celtic basketball—a hustling, physical defensive unit that covers up for the lack of athleticism on the team.
It seems like Boston's only opportunity for a successful road trip is to win in Houston.
Houston will probably test Boston's resolve the most because of the tenacity with which they approach defense. We'll see if the Celtics continue to make the "hockey pass" that Doc Rivers loves so much.
Both teams are battling injuries, though Houston is in worse shape.
The Rockets added scorer Kevin Martin at the trading deadline, but lost their heart and soul Carl Landry to Sacramento in the process.
This has taken a lot of the pressure off of Trevor Ariza and he seems to be playing a more free brand of basketball.
Rondo will have to contend with a potentially speedier guard in Aaron Brooks who can attack the rim as well as shoot the three. He will have to play honest defense in order to slow down this water bug.
Houston is presently the 10th seed in the western conference, so Boston cannot take them lightly.
The Celtics will have to take advantage of their inside presence and force Houston to double down low.
Kevin Garnett said something in last night's presser that I'd never heard before, a public acknowledgement of Rajon Rondo as an emerging scorer on the team. KG also spoke of how Rondo provides additional balance to the offensive attack and is now taking some pressure off of Paul Pierce, himself, and Ray Allen.
In spite of Rondo's newfound offensive game, he still must learn to recognize when to give the ball to a struggling teammate and how to find the hot hand; he sometimes falls in love with the spectacular pass instead of keeping it simple.
Once he takes that step he will be the hall-of-famer that Tommy Heinsohn predicted he would be before he ever played his first NBA game.
The Celtics like to say that they are a work in progress and are not worried about their perceived lack of interest by the public.
This weekends' road trip will tell if the progress made from this two game win streak against non-playoff teams translates when they face stiffer competition.