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Reply To: NBA • Friday Service Plays • 3/11/16

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Preview: Houston At Boston

When: 7:30 PM ET, Friday, March 11, 2016
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

The Boston Celtics are doing things at home that haven’t been seen since the days of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. They will try to extend their longest home winning streak since the original Big 3 ruled the town when they host the Houston Rockets on Friday at TD Garden.

Wednesday’s 116-96 rout of the Memphis Grizzlies was the 14th consecutive home triumph for the Celtics – the franchise’s longest since the 1990-91 squad reeled off 18 in a row – and it gave the team a 1 1/2-game lead on Miami for third place in the Eastern Conference. The Rockets are 2-1 thus far on a five-game road trip after a 118-104 win in Philadelphia on Wednesday and have moved to within a half-game of seventh-place Dallas and 1 1/2 of sixth-place Portland in the West. James Harden landed right on his average with 29 points and he has averaged 35.2 over his last nine road games. However, the four-time All-Star is averaging 15 points on 25.8 percent shooting in his last two contests with the Celtics, including Boston’s 111-95 win in Houston earlier this season.

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ROOT (Houston), CSN New England (Boston)

ABOUT THE ROCKETS (32-32): Houston has won three of four on the heels of a 4-9 stretch and it has taken two in a row on the road for the first time in nearly two months. “Defensively, we’re really keying and shutting teams down,” Harden told reporters Wednesday. “And offensively, we’re sharing the basketball, moving around and guys are just playing well.” Dwight Howard (21 points, 18 rebounds against Philadelphia) has reached the 20-point mark in consecutive games for just the third time this season and is averaging 13.3 rebounds over an eight-game span.

ABOUT THE CELTICS (39-26): Boston entered Thursday tied for 24th in the league in 3-point percentage (33.6), but it was 15-of-32 against Memphis and its most accurate long-range threat – center Kelly Olynyk (41.3 percent) – could return for this one. Coach Brad Stevens had called Olynyk “50-50” for the Grizzlies game after the reserve big man resumed full practice earlier in the week, which could bode well against a Rockets unit that allows 9.6 3-pointers per game — tied for the second-highest total in the league entering Thursday. Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley both hit 4-of-7 long-range shots in the rout of the Rockets back in November.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Rockets PG Patrick Beverley is shooting 45.5 percent from 3-point range and averaging 2.8 steals in four March contests.

2. Celtics PG Marcus Smart was 1-of-11 against Houston in November but had nine rebounds, six assists and five steals.

3. The Celtics have three days off after this one before beginning a stretch in which they play eight of 11 on the road.

PREDICTION: Celtics 111, Rockets 102