Boston Celtics (15-16, 4-8 road) vs. OKC Thunder (25-7, 13-1 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 108.6 (2nd), Celtics– 100.0 (25th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.3 (14th), Celtics – 98.4 (4th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.6 (4th), Celtics – 88.7 (29th)
View from the enemy: Celtics Hub
They’re still the Celtics. That’s what you’ve got to think going into this one. Yes, the Celtics are without Rajon Rondo. Yes, they’re 15-16 and look mostly average. But they’re still the Celtics and with an opportunity to beat the West’s best on the road, you know Ray Allen and Paul Pierce would love to build on that heading to the All-Star break.
Some injury notes: Nick Collison is out again with a quad contusion and James Harden is a game-time decision with a sprained ankle. Rondo is out serving a two-game suspension and Kevin Garnett is expected back after missing the last two games for personal reasons.
Boston coming in: The Celtics played the Mavericks Monday, losing and ugly game.
Three Big Things
1. High pressure. Without Rondo, the starting point guard duties fall to Avery Bradley. He’s a bit in the Westbrook mold in that he’s quick and athletic, but this is a matchup the Thunder must expose. Put pressure on the young guard and force him into trying to make plays for Boston.
2. High speed. The Celtics are old. Kevin Garnett can barely jump. If the Thunder have any major edge, it’s in the transition game. The Thunder get up and down the floor as fast as anyone and the Celtics will have problems keeping up with OKC’s running game. The Celtics want to slow you down and grind out a win in the 80s. The more points, the better for the Thunder.
3. High intensity. It’s a six o’clock start time, which is odd for OKC. With traffic issues downtown plus the early tip, the crowd might be a little more late arriving than usual. The Thunder love to play off the energy of their home crowd, so if that’s a little lackluster early on, OKC might have to manufacture some intensity.
Tip at 6:00 CT. Go High Thunder.