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Celtics vs. Thunder: Pregame Primer

Celtics vs. Thunder: Pregame Primer



Celtics (13-10, 8-5 road) vs. Thunder (14-9, 9-5 home)

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
Time: 6:00 PM CST

Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats)

  • Offensive Rating: Thunder – 102.7 (19th), Celtics– 106.8 (9th)
    Defensive Rating: Thunder – 101.5 (7th), Celtics – 104.4 (15th)

The Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder found themselves in of the same position heading into the season: spurned by Kevin Durant and in a desperate search for a superstar. The Thunder know they have to pair Russell Westbrook with another top-20 player in order to boost Oklahoma City back into the upper echelon of teams again. And Boston has been biding its time looking for the right deal to come around to get rid of their sizable war chest of assets. The current future of each franchise hangs in whether that superstar player will be acquired.

In the mean time, both franchises have done a good job of being competitive. Boston coach Brad Stevens has squeezed about as much as he could from the roster the past two seasons. This season, with the acquisition of Al Horford in the offseason, the Celtics were looking to build upon their last couple of seasons in hopes of being competitive with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East. They’ve been a bit inconsistent this season, but come into this game 3 games over .500 and in 4th spot in the East. Both the Celtics and Thunder are coming off of losses heading into this game.

Season Series Preview

This is the first of two meetings this season between the Thunder and Celtics. The teams split their season series last year, with each team winning comfortably on the other’s home floor.


  • Cameron Payne (foot)

3 Big Things

1. Forcing Turnovers

The Celtics do a great job of protecting the ball, only coughing it up 12.3 times per game (good for 4th in the league). They are guard-oriented, with most of the players in the rotation having high basketball IQ’s. If the Thunder can turn up the defensive pressure a bit, they may be able to force the Celtics into some costly turnovers and make the transition game a big part of their offense.

2. Rebounding

I haven’t checked, but the Celtics and Thunder are probably about the only teams in the league who have guards leading them in rebounding. Avery Bradley leads the Celtics in rebounding at 7.7 per game, while Westbrook is Westbrook. As far as the teams go, the Thunder are much better equipped for rebounding than are the Celtics. And that should be to the Thunder’s advantage in this game.

3. Pace

The Celtics play more of a half-court set, with below average pace. At the same time, the Celtics suffered some set-backs on their journey to OKC and may be a bit tired from their long flight. (Thank goodness it was only a threat.) The Thunder should push the pace and test the Celtics’ legs for tonight’s game.