In what looks likely to be an NBA Finals preview the Houston Rockets rallied from a six-point half-time deficit to defeat the Boston Celtics 123-120.
With James Harden a cold 6-of-18 from the field, Eric Gordon came off the bench to lead the hosts with 29 points as the Rockets and the Celtics split their season series.
Boston won earlier in the campaign 99-98 at the TD Garden and, at least on the surface, these seem two well-matched teams.
The Toronto Raptors, who lead the Celtics by 1.5 games in the Atlantic Division and the overall Eastern Conference race, the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers will no doubt expect to have some say in the process, but Boston and Houston might well be a seven-game classic.
First however is the rest of the regular season with 20 or less games to go in the campaign.
The Celtics, 33/1 to win the Atlantic Division, play the second contest of a three-game road swing in Chicago on Monday against the Bulls while the Rockets go in search of a 16th consecutive victory, also on Monday, when they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Houston continues on to Milwaukee to face the Bucks in what already looks like something of a trap game with the Raptors in Toronto on tap for Friday.
It should be noted that the Rockets were smoked 129-113 by the Raptors when the two teams met at the Toyota Center in what was easily the most lopsided defeat of the season for Houston.
The Celtics are 5/2 to win the Eastern Conference with the Raptors 4999/1 and the Cavaliers are priced at 4/9.
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