Pre-game notes: Boston Celtics vs. Houston Rockets

Pre-game notes: Boston Celtics vs. Houston Rockets

By A. Sherrod Blakely

WALTHAM With or without Kevin Garnett back in the lineup, tonight's game will be a tough for the Celtics if you put any stock into recent history between these two teams.

In their last five meetings, the road team has emerged victorious. Dig a little deeper, and you'll find that the visiting team has walked away the victor in 12 of their last 15 matchups.

Weird, I know.

So is the fact that Houston comes in having lost its last four games, despite leading by at least nine points in every one of them. The last team to lose that many games leading by that many points or more, was the Minnesota Timberwolves who dropped seven straight in March of 2006, having led by at least nine points in each game.

We've talked about how well and efficient Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have been shooting the ball this season.

The duo has been especially lethal from 3-point range since the calendar flipped a few days ago.

For players who have taken at least 15 3-pointers since January 1st, no one is shooting better than Allen who has connected on 65 percent (15-of-23) of his 3s. Pierce isn't too far behind. He has nailed 56 percent (10-for-18) of his 3s.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.


Kevin Durant solidifying invitations for free agent meetings, including Celtics

Kevin Durant solidifying invitations for free agent meetings, including Celtics

The wheels of the Kevin Durant free agent train have been set in motion.

"Durant’s representatives at Roc Nation are working to solidify invitations" for meetings with a list of six teams, which includes the Boston Celtics, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. The other teams listed are the Warriors, Clippers, Heat, Spurs and Thunder. The Nuggets, Knicks, Lakers, Rockets, and Wizards could "could still find audiences with him," but they are considered outsiders.

Wojnarowski says the Thunder remain the frontrunners, but "the Warriors have Durant's attention."

If Durant chooses the Warriors, it could happen very quickly. Warriors restricted free agent Harrison Barnes could sign an offer sheet for a contract on July 1, which would mean the Warriors would have only have three days to match the deal. They'd likely need a decision from Durant before then, or they'd risk losing one of their valuable pieces without being able to fill his role.

Durant plans on making his decision before July 9 anyway, according to Wojnarowski, because that's when he's leaving for a publicity tour in the Far East.

The fact the Celtics are even on Durant's primary list shouldn't come as a surprise considering his actions after his game in Boston against the Celtics earlier this year. They do have tough competition though. Both the Warriors and Heat have the cap space to absorb Durant's likely max contract worth about $26.4 million, and the Spurs can easily create the space if necessary.

The Clippers are interesting though, because they'd have to deal one of their stars (Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, or Blake Griffin) to free the cap space to sign Durant. If he does choose the Clippers, maybe Danny Ainge could help Doc Rivers swing a deal. How about something involving Blake Griffin and Jae Crowder?

But the Celtics have an edge. They're the only team listed that can sign two max contract free agents. If Durant wants to play with his buddy Al Horford, or anyone else for that matter, the Celtics can make it happen. How about a 2007 draft class reunion with Durant, Horford, and Jared Dudley? It's an odd trio, but Dudley has already expressed interest in joining the Celtics.

No matter what happens though, the Celtics are in the race. Fans might be disappointed after Thursday night, but we're just getting started, folks.

Kevin O’Connor can be followed on Twitter: @KevinOConnorNBA