The Boston Celtics face the Houston Rockets Friday night in Houston and that means the team will face the challenge of guarding one of the up and coming premier players in the game in James Harden. If you recall, Harden was traded to the Rockets just days before the season started as the Oklahoma City Thunder were skeptical about signing him to a long term deal.
The Thunder’s decision was the Rockets gain as they made a brilliant trade in acquiring the former Arizona State product for Kevin Martin and other spare parts. I loved the deal for Houston at the time and still do, as I have never been a huge fan of Martin’s game and I am still curious as to why Oklahoma City made the deal.
There had to be better offers on the table, including an apparent offer from the Washington Wizards that would have netted Bradley Beal in return. Martin isn’t a bad player, he is just at somewhat of a crossroads in his career whereas Beal is a rookie who has tremendous upside and will be on a rookie contract for the foreseeable future.
Anyway, getting back to how this relates to the Celtics. Who is going to guard Harden? The smart money would be on Paul Pierce as he has a similar physique to handle Harden. Harden is a bull of a player and is arguably one of the strongest guards in the league. Jason Terry would be a matchup nightmare, but the problem is, if Terry doesn’t guard his equivalent at the shooting guard position, who else does he guard?
Rajon Rondo will most likely cover Jeremy Lin, so that might mean Terry having to guard Chandler Parsons, who has about eight inches on him. Maybe the team plays a zone? I don’t know. Either way the Harden matchup will be a tough one for the Celtics and head coach Doc Rivers will have to make thorough preparations in order to contain him.
Rob Lunder covers the Boston Celtics for Rant Sports. For all Celtics news go to the team homepage on Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @rlunder18