The Boston Celtics like the way they've played in three straight easy home wins. They know they're about to be tested in a big way on the road.
The Celtics start a stretch of eight straight games against Western Conference opponents in the opener of a three-game trip Friday night against the Houston Rockets.
Boston (43-24) has been able to build big leads and rest its starters in its last three games at home, including Wednesday in a 109-97 win over New York. Every player logged less than 28 minutes as the Celtics led by 21 heading to the fourth quarter.
This stretch against the West begins and ends against Houston (35-31), while this trip includes meetings with Dallas and Utah.
"Now we just have to go on the road, play the same way we've been playing - sharing the ball, playing defense with a lot of energy and playing through for 48 minutes," forward Kevin Garnett said.
Paul Pierce scored 29 points and Garnett added 22 as Boston shot 50.6 percent Wednesday. The Celtics have 62 assists in their last two games, with 18 by Rajon Rondo.
"We focus on our turnovers being down. We focus on our blocked shots and our rebounds. Other than that, our scoring is going to come from different places (each) night," Garnett said.
Rondo will be up against a point guard coming off one of the best games of his career in Aaron Brooks, who scored 31 and made all seven 3-pointers in a 107-94 home win over Memphis on Wednesday.
"Kind of a weird experience," said Brooks, who went 11 for 14 from the field. "I don't think I've ever shot 7 for 7 in a game, a pickup game or anything like that. Some of the shots were off-balance, I don't know. It just felt good."
The Rockets have won a season-high four straight after forward Luis Scola scored 20 points to continue his surge. Scola is averaging 25.8 points on 57.3 percent shooting in his last six games.
"When you make shots, everything opens up," Scola said. "You play much calmer and we all have a little more space."
Rockets guard Kyle Lowry re-aggravated his sprained left ankle in the fourth quarter and did not return. Lowry missed 12 games due to the injury before returning at the start of this win streak.
"I'm good, it was just a very bad tweak," he said. "It happens at least once a game."
Houston trails eighth-place Portland by 4 1/2 games in the race for the West's final playoff spot.
"It's less than a month away from the end of the season," Scola said. "We've just got to win games in any possible way. Ugly? So be it."
The Rockets are 10-13 against Eastern foes while the Celtics are 13-9 versus the West. Boston has won three straight at Houston, which visits the Celtics on April 2.