Boston Celtics vs. Houston Rockets Pick & Prediction JANUARY 13th 2024

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The Boston Celtics will try to retain the NBA’s only unbeaten home record when they face the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.

Boston set a franchise record for consecutive home wins at the start of a season when it improved to 18-0 by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 127-120 in overtime Wednesday. The 1957-58 Celtics won their first 17 home games.

“Any time you get a chance to, to sketch yourself down to history, there’s been a lot of great teams that have, you know, opened up and played in the Garden, and for us … to have the best start ever in franchise history, I think that says a lot about the group,” Boston’s Jaylen Brown said. “It’s an honor to be in that regard and let’s keep it going.”

Ime Udoka’s return to Boston is another top storyline entering the Saturday game. Udoka, who is in his first season as Houston’s head coach, led the Celtics to the NBA Finals in the 2021-22 season but was dismissed by the team after that season for having an improper work relationship.

“My (Celtics) players will reach out and talk about how proud they are about what we’re doing and then vice versa,” Udoka told Andscape. “I see what they’re doing as well. The biggest piece from just being there for only one season was those relationships we formed. And some of those guys I’ll talk to for the rest of our lives. And so, there is a close bond and you look back at what could have been but also understand the impact you had and the relationships (you) will continue to have going forward.”

The Celtics will be trying to bounce back from a 135-102 loss at Milwaukee on Thursday. It was Boston’s second game in as many days and its fifth game in a seven-day stretch.

Milwaukee went on a 25-0 run in the first half and led 75-38 at halftime. Boston coach Joe Mazzulla didn’t play his starters in the second half, though he said the move wasn’t made to send a message to his team.

“It’s tough,” Mazzulla said. “They want to play. They prepared. Again, it was my decision. It wasn’t theirs. At the end of the day, it’s my responsibility to do what’s best for them and the team. If I said, ‘Hey, you want to go out there?’ They’re going to do it. It was me. I told them and I felt like it was my responsibility to do it.”

Houston ended a two-game losing streak by beating the host Detroit Pistons 112-110 on Friday. The Rockets received 29 points from Alperen Sengun and 28 from Jalen Green. Fred VanVleet scored 17 points in the second half and finished the game with 20 points and 12 assists.

VanVleet and Sengun scored 22 of Houston’s 24 fourth-quarter points.

“(VanVleet’s) the guy,” Sengun said. “He’s going to handle the end of the game. He makes all the shots. He makes the pass. He did everything. He was calm. He played great for us.”

Detroit’s Jaden Ivey had an open look for what would have been a go-ahead 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds to play, but the ball hit the rim and bounced out.

“We’ll take it, but it feels like we stole one,” Udoka said.

–Field Level Media

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