Thunder (33-10, 14-7 road) vs. Celtics (15-29, 9-12 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.4 (5th), Celtics – 101.8 (24th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 101.9 (3rd), Celtics – 105.6 (14th)
Pace: Thunder – 95.9 (6th), Celtics – 93.5 (17th)
UPDATE: Kevin Durant is out tonight with a sore shoulder. Sad faces all around. Perry Jones will start in his spot.
It’s time for another reaping.
The Thunder take their five-game winning streak to Boston to play a scrappy Celtics team that while beat up (no Avery Bradley), plays hard most every night. Rajon Rondo is back-ish, and Jeff Green is always capable of making a few things happen. Plus, the magic of Durant is bound to have an off night. It might not be this one, but when it does happen and he’s a pedestrian 9-21 for 28 points (ugh), who’s going to step up?
During this stretch, one thing that’s been overlooked is that the Thunder have played some pretty solid defense. It hasn’t just been Durant. The Warrior game notwithstanding, overall, for at least a half each game, OKC’s defending well. Which is often enough. Eventually, when things don’t fall from all over for KD, the Thunder are going to need to fall back on their defense for stretches while they sort things out.
The Thunder have already smoked the Celtics once without Russell Westbrook, and did it behind a big game from Reggie Jackson. But keep this in mind too: The Thunder are playing really well right now, which is great. But there’s a fine line between this level of performance, and how they played against the Jazz and Nuggets. Without Westbrook, I’m still not sure night to night which team will show up.
Three Big Things
1. Rondo. With Jerryd Bayless and Avery Bradley both likely out, the Celtics are lacking in the firepower department. But while Rondo is still playing with a minute restriction, he’s still a special player that can make things happen.
2. Rebounding. The Celtics aren’t big, but they’ve got high energy rebounder like Jared Sullinger and Vitor Faverani. No second chance opportunities, because offensively, the Celtics shouldn’t be able to keep pace with OKC unless they’re just ridiculously hot or something.
3. KD. What’s he gonna do this time?
Tip at 6:30 CT. Go Slim.