Preview 8 of 82: Celtics @ Thunder
Time: 8:30 PM CT
TV: ESPN / Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
The Boston Celtics are in Oklahoma City for a Friday night showdown with the Thunder. Both teams are riding a recent wave of momentum, and feature stout defenses that should keep this one interesting throughout.
The Celtics are without Gordon Hayward for the remainder of the season, but come in on a six-game winning streak nonetheless. Led by Kyrie Irving, Boston is a young, gritty team that is surrendering the fewest points per game in the early season. They will look to use youth and extreme size/length to try and slow a Thunder attack that looked much improved on the recent road trip.
Oklahoma City takes a two-game winning streak into tonight, beating both the Bulls and Bucks by double-digits. The offense is still a work in progress, but the Thunder defense is also near tops in the league in what it’s surrendering on a per game basis. Boston presents some interesting match-ups both offensively and defensively, so this is a great early test for the Thunder on both sides of the ball.
The game tips at 8:30 PM CT on ESPN and Fox Sports Oklahoma.
- Gordon Hayward: Out — Ankle
- Marcus Morris: Probable — Knee
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- The name of the game tonight is defense, as both teams enter in the top three of fewest points allowed per game. The Celtics ring at number one, surrendering 93.8 points per game. The Thunder is close behind in third, giving up 95.7.
- The Celtics will roll out a presumed starting lineup of Kyrie Irving — Jaylen Brown — Jayson Tatum — Al Horford — Aron Baynes. Irving stands at 6’3″, but everyone else in the starting five is 6’7″ or taller. Arms for days, and athleticism to match. The Thunder must share the ball well in order to find men in space, and limit the turnovers. No hero ball.
- As Steven Adams will be matched up with Aron Baynes, that technically leaves Carmelo Anthony in charge of guarding Al Horford. Look for Paul George to help out, but Patrick Patterson could be a valuable asset tonight. He’s a solid defender and maintains the spacing on offense due to his three-point shooting. I’d like to see him log heavy minutes.
- The Thunder leads the NBA in point differential at +10.9, followed by Boston in second place at +9.2. Products of that stifling defense.
- The Celtics are a superior rebounding team to the Thunder, as they enter grabbing the sixth most rebounds per game in the NBA at 47.1. Oklahoma City is currently 29th in rebounding at 42.4 per contest, and it won’t get any easier tonight against a big Boston roster.
- The match-up at point guard is a real doozie. Kyrie Irving is averaging 21.8 points and 5.6 assists through eight games for the Celtics. Westbrook has a stat line of 19.6 points, 11.9 assists and 9.9 rebounds.
- Russell Westbrook has four triple-doubles in seven games, and an 11 board effort would give him the triple-double average.
Russell Westbrook’s full media availability from today’s shootaround. Via FranchiseOK.
Paul George discusses Gordon Hayward’s season-ending injury. Via Erik Horne.