Preview 73 of 82: Thunder @ Celtics
Time: 7:00 PM CT
TV: FSOK / FSOK
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC/97.1 FM Tulsa)
The Oklahoma City Thunder (43-29) puts its six-game winning streak on the line tonight in Boston, facing the East’s second-placed Celtics (47-23) at TD Garden. It is the second and final match-up between the teams this season.
The Celtics enter in the middle of an injury plague and will be severely short-handed against OKC. Boston will take the floor without Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and, of course, Gordon Hayward, making Al Horford and Jayson Tatum the focal points of their game plan. With the Thunder facing the most difficult closing schedule in the NBA and 1.5-games up on San Antonio for the West’s four-seed, taking advantage of a thin Boston rotation is paramount.
Tip-off is at 7:00 PM CT and will be televised on TNT and Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder is a 3.5-point favorite according to Odds Shark.
- Andre Roberson: Out – Knee
- Jaylen Brown: Out — Concussion
- Gordon Hayward: Out — Ankle
- Kyrie Irving: Out — Knee
- Marcus Smart: Out — Thumb
- Daniel Theis: Out — Knee
Celtics: Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, Al Horford, Aron Baynes
|Team||EFG||FTA||TOV%||OREB||OPP EFG||OPP FTA||OPP TO%||OPP OREB%|
Thunder O & D
Celtics O & D
Nov. 3: BOS 101, OKC 94 [BOX SCORE]
Triple-Double Wave. Russell Westbrook enters on a five-game triple-double spree, averaging 24.6 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 11.6 assists over the span. He’s coming off a 37-13-14 effort on Sunday in Toronto and needs to average 12.1 rebounds per game over the last 10 contests to average a triple-double for the second straight season. He should enjoy life against a banged up Celtics team but will be matched up with a decent defender in Terry Rozier.
Kinda Scary Terry. Rozier is someone to watch out for in the thin Celtics lineup. The 24-year-old point guard has started six games in place of Kyrie Irving, averaging 18.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6 assists as a starter. He’s shooting 38 percent from deep in the 2017-18 season and is somewhat of a triple-double threat. Given Westbrook’s occasional bouts of defensive ineptitude, Rozier could easily light up the Thunder and help keep Boston in the game if OKC isn’t careful.
Defending Jayson Tatum. With Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and others out tonight, rookie Jayson Tatum will likely be the focal point of the Boston attack. He’s averaging 13.5 PPG this season and is coming off a 23-point performance on Sunday against the Pelicans. He’s hit 42.7 percent of this three-point attempts this season and capable of carving up the Thunder defense if he gets going. Look for Corey Brewer and Paul George to take turns attempting to make his life difficult.
Big Al. Al Horford hit the Thunder for 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting on November 3 — hitting 4-of-4 from downtown and helping spark the 18-point Celtics comeback. He’s been much colder of late, averaging just 10.3 points on 39.5 percent shooting (22.2 percent from deep) over the last five games. Regardless, it’s tough to love the match-up with Carmelo Anthony and wouldn’t be surprising to see a bit more Jerami Grant and Patrick Patterson.
Paging PG13. Paul George is averaging 18.2 PPG on 40 percent shooting and 29 percent from long range in March — a far cry from his 21.8/43.7/40.6 numbers for the entire season. He’s been held without a three-pointer twice this month after having it happen just twice in months previous, and simply hasn’t looked all that great offensively. He’ll look to get going against a Celtics team he dropped 25 points and 10 rebounds against in the first match-up this season.
Competing Kiwi. Steven Adams is averaging 21.5 points and 11 rebounds in the two games since returning from a hip injury — a stretch that includes 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists on Sunday in Toronto. He will be matched up with Aron Baynes — born in New Zealand and now an Australian citizen (a cringeworthy defection) — who is an excellent interior defender. Adams scored just 7 points in 33 minutes against Baynes on November 3 — but did put him on a poster. He should get involved early and stay involved, as the Thunder is 7-0 when he takes more shots than Melo. (Melo shot 3-of-17 on Nov. 3, by the way.)
The aforementioned Adams/Baynes poster: