Boston Celtics (15-4, 8-1 road) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (10-8, 5-4 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 105.9 (19th), Celtics – 109.0 (11th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.7 (5th), Celtics – 99.1 (2nd)
Pace: Thunder – 91.9 (19th), Celtics – 91.1 (25th)
View from the enemy: Celtics Hub
Color me excited for this one. Not necessarily because I see this as another chance at a large statement to the league. Not necessarily because I have real expectations of winning. Not because of anything really. It’s just that any time the Celtics come to town, it’s neat. The three previous things add to the excitement for sure, but just the fact that Boston is in Oklahoma City gets me psyched. Their tradition, their uniforms, their big name stars. It’s all very exciting.
The Celtics come in after a tough 90-83 win in San Antonio last night which was the C’s sixth straight win. Ray Allen played 40 minutes, Kevin Garnett 35, Paul Pierce 37 and Rajon Rondo 36. Boston had to work for its win and that’s good news for Thunder fans. There is potential that the older legs of the Celtics could be a little noodlely this evening. As pointed out by an astute reader, while Bostin is 8-1 on the road this year, its one loss was to the Indiana Pacers on the tail of a back-to-back. And last night in their win they faded near the end scoring only 16 points in the final frame. Hmm….
OKC should be rested and ready, though Etan Thomas will likely be starting in place of Nenad Krstic who is questionable for tonight. That’s a bigger loss than you might think because Krstic spreads the floor and provides Russell Westbrook a perfect bailout option.
Two key head-to-heads I think: Garnett versus Green and Durant versus Pierce. First KG and JG: Obviously Garnett has the upper hand here. He’s still one of the true elite players and Uncle Jeff typically has some issues with guys that score inside and out. Garnett is a beast and he’s going to get after Green on the defensive end too. I wouldn’t expect much from Uncle Jeff, just that hopefully he can keep his head above water, rebound a little and limit Garnett offensively.
Paul Pierce is one of the top defenders in the league, mainly because he never quits. Every possession is a personal battle to him. He’s smaller than KD, but he’ll probably use Artest tactics and try and get inside and under Durant. Which of course could open the door for a couple “rip moves” from KD. I’m honestly not too tremendously worried about Pierce offensively. Durant is such a better defender now and really understands how to use his length. He can give a player some room because he can make up ground with his go-go-gadget arms. And we all know how Pierce loves that step-back elbow jumper.
Rondo and Westbrook are similar players in that they defend, they are lightning quick and they don’t shoot all that well. Kind of a push if you ask me. And of course I love Thabo on Ray Allen. I’ve said it before, but most times Thabo tortures jumpshooting two-guards. And nobody is more that than Ray Allen. Thabo will always have a hand in his face and will always challenge shots. Thing is, Allen is so amazing that he’ll knock down jumpers with a pile of dead bodies stacked eye level. He’s just lights out.
The Celtic bench is far deeper than the Thunder with Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels and Eddie House providing instant offense off the pine. I suspect this will be a game OKC relies on James Harden a bit to provide some secondary scoring a spark to hang with Boston when Durant and Green need to sit. If OKC didn’t have Nick Collison tonight I’d say no chance, but Nick’s return has me feeling a little better about the Thunder’s second unit. I am a little worried the potential for a fight with Kendrick Perkins and Etan Thomas squaring off.
Mrs. Daily Thunder is taking a big chance and is willing to put her perfect record on the line tonight. She doesn’t want to everyone to think she hand picks easy games to just win. She’s no Mack Brown here people. The Ford Center should be a-rockin’ tonight. Hope you’re ready for some defense.
Tip at 7:00 CST. Go D.