Celtics (13-20, 5-10 road) vs. Thunder (26-7, 14-3 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 108.6 (7th), Celtics – 101.8 (23rd)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 100.7 (3rd), Celtics – 104.0 (10th)
Pace: Thunder – 96.6 (4th), Celtics – 92.9 (20th)
The Thunder haven’t lost three consecutive home games in so long that I know it’s been a long time and am too lazy to look it up. But they’re up against that tonight. And if we’ve learned anything lately, especially with the loss to the Nets, it’s that no win is guaranteed without Westbrook, no matter the locations. Previously, you could probably chalk games like this up for the most part. Now? They’re all toss-ups, unfortunately.
The Celtics bring in a scrappy team, one that plays hard consistently, but just lacks the firepower to win most nights. But they’re absolutely capable of surprising anyone, as they did to the Heat in Miami earlier this season. They’ve got a few scorers and playmakers — Jordan Crawford and Avery Bradley — a decent go-to guy in Jeff Green and some OK size inside.
Plus, they’re exceptionally well coached and play their roles and know their spots. The Thunder can’t just coast to one tonight. They’re coming off an exhausting win in Minnesota the night before, and they got in to chilly OKC late last night. It could be tough to get refocused and ready to play tonight. And a slow start will only make things tough. They’ve got to play well to win this one.
Boston coming in: Lost to the Pelicans on Friday
Three Big Things
1. Transition. The Celtics are a solid defensive team and they can matchup with OKC a bunch of different ways. So the Thunder need to make sure they aren’t operating in the halfcourt all night, but instead getting some easy transition opportunities. To do that, they’ve got to force misses, force turnovers, and push the ball.
2. Take care of it. The last two games, the Thunder have turned it over 43 times. That’s bad. Do that less.
3. Don’t lead going into the fourth quarter. I’m kidding about this one. I think.
Tip at 6:00 CT. Go Home Team.