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Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Houston Rockets

01.07.09 at 10:54 am ET
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For two teams who have their own version of the “Big Three,” nothing about their play as been big lately. On Wednesday night the Boston Celtics (29-7) will take on the Houston Rockets (21-15) at the TD BankNorth Garden in a match up between a pair of talented but struggling teams. The Celtics are 2-5 since snapping their 19-game winning streak on Christmas Day while the Rockets have lost six of their last eight. What is the common denominator?

Defense.

The Celtics have been outhustled on the defensive end during their recent skid. Their opponents have figured out how to slow down Rajon Rondo and the Cs have not matched that intensity. Getting outrebounded doesn’t help either.

“Teams are way too comfortable when they go up against us now,” Paul Pierce told the media after Tuesday’s loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. “We’re missing assignments. One person can mess up the whole five, so we all have to get back on the same page.”

As for the Rockets, they have allowed their opponents to shoot a league-high 50.8% from the field in the last five contests. They have also been outscored by an average of six points per game.

“For whatever reason, we’ve taken steps back on the defensive end,” Tracy McGrady told reporters. “In the past (defense) has been our make up, a great defensive team. No matter how bad we were struggling on the offensive end, we always seemed to play defense. The last week or two, it got away from us.”

One team will get back on track tonight while another will be left scratching their heads. The Celtics have the advantage with McGrady being sidelined by a knee injury, but recent losses to undermanned teams like the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers are proof you may not need your superstar to beat the Cs.

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