Boston Celtics (5-1, 1-1 road) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (3-2, 1-1 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 105.9 (16th), Celtics – 105.7 (17th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 110.7 (27th), Celtics – 99.6 (4th)
Pace: Thunder – 94.2 (17th), Celtics – 92.0 (24th)
View from the enemy: Celtics Hub
Every time it’s Celtics-Thunder I can’t help but think of this. I can’t be the only one. Anyway, on to the important game information.
Riding high off a surprising, improbable, yet excellent win over the Blazers Thursday in which Kevin Durant played 52 minutes, Jeff Green 46 and Russell Westbrook 44, these last two days off have been huge for the Thunder. Not only can the coaching staff hopefully get started sorting out a few of the large issues facing the team, but there’s a chance to get well and get rested.
The bad thing is, for a team that’s struggling moving the ball and is in an offensive rut, the Celtics are just about the worst team to play. If the offense is stale and all one-on-one stuff, I honestly wonder if the Thunder can crack 70 points. Seriously. The Celtics will feast on OKC if the Thunder play selfishly. OKC has to space the floor, get in transition and share the ball. Otherwise, we all might be wanting to eat our own fists in the middle of the third quarter.
Boston coming in: The Celtics have been their usual consistent selves, winning five of six thus far. Most recently, they beat the Bulls at home in overtime on Friday. This game is the first of a four-game road trip for Boston where the Celtics are currently 1-1 on the road.
What’s interesting, is as good as the Celtics are defensively as a team, Kevin Durant has often torched Boston. But that hasn’t necessarily hurt the Celtics. For instance, last season in a 105-87 loss, KD dropped 36 on 13-19 shooting. Boston was content to let KD score and contain everything else. That strategy shouldn’t be as successful now with the help of a secondary scorer like Russell Westbrook now.
Speaking of, that should be a super fun matchup. Westbrook against Rajon Rondo will be the type of head-to-head that’s hard to take your eyes off of. Rondo has an NBA record 93 assists through six games. Including that 24-assist performance last week. Rondo moves the ball around so well to his scorers and right now, the Celtics are the opposite of the Thunder. The ball moves beautifully, the spacing is terrific and multiple players are scoring. I’m jealous.
Who knows what Kevin Garnett might call Jeff Green, but it’s a matchup that Green could have issues with. Garnett loves to pick-and-pop but he’s also terrific on the block. The Celtics are decently strong inside with Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal and Glen Davis, but it’s not really a huge mis-match.
Thabo is a good player to guard Ray Allen because hopefully Thabo can keep a hand in Allen’s face while he’s unleashing those gorgeous 3s. The Thunder bench will be vital in creating energy and some scoring as I would expect the game to be somewhat of a defensive contest.
This one will be about which team’s big players make the biggest plays. I’d like to think that OKC can ride the momentum from Portland and keep all the good things that happened in the second half, but I fear that such a veteran, smart and quality team like the Celtics will expose the issues the Thunder still have. But who knows. The Thunder plays well at home most of the time.
Tip at 6:00. Go Celtic Thunder.