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The Boston Celtics entered Christmas Day on a three-game losing streak and were certainly in a need of a marquee victory. They definitely got one as they topped the Philadelphia 76ers in a 121-114 overtime decision. Kyrie Irving paced the Celtics with a 40-point performance, including knocking down the game-tying shot in the final minute of regulation. Boston hadn’t been in the win column since Dec. 14 when they dominated the Atlanta Hawks in a 129-108 victory.
Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets have struggled out of the gate, but are playing their best basketball of the season right now. The team has won seven of their last eight games, including defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder on Christmas Day. Houston was able to fend off Oklahoma City despite being without All-Star point guard Chris Paul. Paul is currently dealing with a left hamstring strain that he suffered against the Miami Heat last Thursday.
These are two teams that haven’t exactly lived up to their preseason expectations so far, but will look to gain a big win on Thursday.
How to watch
Date: Thursday, Dec. 27
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Toyota Center — Houston, Texas
Streaming: fuboTV – (free trial – NBA League Pass add-on available)
Live stats: GameTracker
Odds: Rockets +1.5
Odds and analysis
Check Sportsline’s NBA pick sheet for all your daily odds.
Celtics: Inconsistent play has been the theme throughout most of the season for Boston. This is a team that won eight consecutive games earlier this month before dropping three straight prior to Christmas Day. Injuries have played a factor as of late with Al Horford recently returning to the lineup from a knee injury, but now Aron Baynes will miss the next month with a broken hand. Look for Irving to continue to play at a high level and take center stage in this prime-time matchup.
Rockets: With Paul out of the lineup, James Harden will be expected to be even more of a producer on the offensive end. Something to keep an eye on is the fact that Harden is currently listed as questionable with a calf contusion. While it’s extremely likely that Harden plays, if he’s less than 100 percent, that could play a major role in the game’s outcome. It likely could come down to a scoring battle between Irving and Harden.
Game prediction, pick
The Celtics and Rockets each came away with huge wins on Christmas Day. With both teams hitting their stride, this one could be a shootout. Boston might have just too much depth for Houston and should come away with a victory.
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