Houston's physicality is too much for the Celtics … again


BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics pride themselves on being a tough group, the kind that handles adversity and hard times the way Dikembe Mutombo dealt with guards trying to score on him.

But Saturday’s 111-110 overtime loss to Houston was a game whose outcome came down to physical play. 

The Rockets brought it. 

The Celtics?

Not so much. 

And making matters worse, it was the second time this month the Celtics faced the Rockets and the second time that Houston ratcheted up its physicality to a level that Boston could not match. 

“We have to be more physical, more than just a few minutes here and there,” Boston’s Daniel Theis told NBC Sports Boston. “That was the game, really. They were the more physical team.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens echoed similar sentiments about the Rockets. 

“The physicality really affected us in both of these games against Houston,” Stevens said. “It really affected us. Part of that is brute strength. Part of it is picking your spots better.”

Jaylen Brown agreed.

“They’re a physical team, a fast team, quick, all the above," he said. "Defensively, they deserve the credit. They defended us well.”

That physicality was a major problem for Boston when it came to rebounding, specifically on the offensive glass.

Despite Houston having just a 14-12 advantage in offensive rebounds, the Rockets did a much better job converting those multiple shot opportunities into points. 

For the game, Houston had a 14-7 advantage in second-chance points. 

And while many of the mistakes and miscues made on Saturday were similar to problematic areas for Boston when the two met earlier this season, Stevens feels as though this loss will be one in which lessons were learned that will benefit the team down the road. 

“We learn from everything,” Stevens said. “I think that’s important. We have to become a little bit better holding our ground. And then I think the other thing that you know is always a great reminder is that a possession is never over until you have the ball. And they killed us on the glass in the third and fourth quarters. From the corners, and slashing and crashing. Those were big, huge plays. 

Stevens added, “Both teams played hard. Both teams made a lot of those plays; I think they made a few more. The right team won. I think they were better than us tonight, not by much but at least by one (point).”

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Nets-Celtics, which begins Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App

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