The Thunder played surprising, inspired basketball for most of three quarters before finally succumbing to the excellence of the World Champs on the road. It might have been that the Celtics didn’t really expect much of a fight from a 20-53 team, but nevertheless, they turned it on when they needed to on both sides of the ball. Judging by the Celts dominance, it was sort of like a shark with blood in the water. The crowd got going, the defense tightened and the Thunder folded, only able to score 16 points in the fourth to the Celtic’s 32.
The Thunder came out and played fairly well in the first quarter, especially after Durant went to the bench with his second foul at around 4:oo in. The Thunder were down 7-4 at the time, but immediately went on a run without him closing out the quarter 21-13 and ending with a 5 point lead. Kyle Weaver was the key in that run, getting 4 assists and a steal and being the glue guy in the quarter.
The two teams battled mostly even and ended the half tied at 45, with neither team shooting terribly well. The Thunder vacillated between some fantastic defensive plays to some real bonehead defensive lapses.
In the second half the Celts began getting some traction and hitting more of their shots. Paul Pierce was as dead eye as they come scoring 13 points in the third. As previously noted, the Thunder could only score 16 points in the fourth, and were outscored in the second half 39-58, getting handily out rebounded 36-48 for the second game in a row.
- I thought Russell Westbrook had a very nice game that the stat sheet didn’t record. He was really effective hitting his pull up jumper, driving to the lane and driving and dishing to open team mates, who didn’t seem to finish. Russell only got credited with two assists.
- Tommy Heinsohn is just a little bit more than biased as the Celtics color man on the Celtic tv broadcast. He complained bitterly when Durant used his little “sweep through” move and attempted to get the foul call in the first half. Tommy said “how can that be a foul”? He again complained when RW got Rondo into the air and jumped up into his arms and got the foul. Later when Paul Pierce used the exact same move on Weaver and got the foul, he said it was a “smart play”.
- One of the coaches really needs to get to Durant and get him involved in the offense when he is on the weak side. When the ball is away from him he often just stands at the top of the arc with his hands up calling for the ball. The offense opens up exponentially when guys move without the ball, creating space and getting close to the basket for quick passes. When he just stands there, he allows the defense to sort of cheat off him and guard two guys with one man instead of getting on the move and forcing the defense to cover.
- A noteworthy play by Westbrook to close out the half. He drove and dished to Green, all alone in the corner. Green missed, but RW got the offensive board, and made a fall away jumper with 6/10ths of a second left, getting fouled along the way. It didn’t get called, but Coach Brooks was ranting enough about it to get called for what I believe is his first technical foul as a head coach.
- Kevin Durant also made some very strong defensive plays, followed by bonehead ones. On one possession, guarding Pierce on a drive and pull up, Durant didn’t bite and stayed down, forcing Pierce to pass back out. The very next possession, he got lost on defense and didn’t even come close to being able to close out on Pierce’s long jumper.
- Durant inadvertently caught Big Baby Davis with an elbow on the top of his head. Blood was squirting out between his fingers. 13 stitches and back in the game.
- Speaking of big Baby, he had 19 points and 10 boards in 32 minutes on 8-14 shooting. Krstic and Collison combined went for 13 and 10 in 46 minutes on 5-16 shooting. In case you didn’t know, we drafted big Baby with the 35th pick a couple of years ago and included him in the Green/Ray Allen trade.
- Another stinky defensive play that caught my eye in the fourth: Starbury had the ball at the top of the arc and Eddie House was in the left corner guarded by Westbrook. House took off across the court for the opposite corner and Westbrook ran into a screen by Davis. It took Westbrook probably close to 2 seconds to get around the screen, and then he basically jogged to get over to House. Malik Rose tried to shed Moore and help, but Moore held him and House had a wide open three, without a defender within 8 feet at least. That was just terrible effort by Westbrook, and great effort by House, and that is what I am talking about when I talk about Durant not moving without the basketball. He could be doing just as Eddie House did.
- We again were outrebounded, rebounding having been one of our strengths most of this year. Tonight we allowed the Celts to gather in 6 more rebounds than their nightly average, while we collected 6 fewer than ours.
- Can anyone remember the last time we dropped say 110 points on an opponent? Our offense is still just as MIA as Earl Watson.
- Ok, I just checked. We haven’t had a good scoring game (either points or efficiency) since the two Dallas games at the beginning of this month.
- Thabo and Weaver might be the best basketball players on the team. Certainly Durant is the best scorer, Westbrook has maybe the most potential and athleticism, Green is the smoothest big man I’ve seen in a while, but Thabo and Weaver just do a little bit of everything that makes a team function like a team. Thabo had 6 points, 4 rebs, 4 blocks, 2 assists and a steal, 3 fouls guarding Pierce and Allen; Weaver had zero points, 7 assists, 2 steals and a rebound, and only one foul in 19 minutes also guarding all the wings. Someday, this team will get a big time scorer at the two, and he will get the starters job and Thabo will go to the bench. My guess is that the coach will have a hard time justifying keeping him there. And Weaver should be getting Atkins minutes at the backup 1, and still getting his usual minutes backing up the two and spot three minutes.
- In keeping with the cry for more three point shots, a quick bit of math tells me that: Boston scored 62 points on two’s, 24 points on three’s, and 17 points from the line. The Thunder scored 58 points on two’s, 3 points on three’s, and 23 points from the line.