Thunder vs. Celtics preview (Game 73 of 82)

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  • When: Tuesday, 20 March 2018 at 7:00 pm CST
  • Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
  • Line: OKC -4.5 | O/U – 208.5

The Oklahoma City Thunder have definitely been akin to the kid that never shows up to class, doesn’t do his homework, but then passes his tests with flying colors. It’s maddening. It’s frustrating. But it’s them. They are a team that is likely built for the playoffs, and not for the rigmarole of the regular season.

The Thunder are the only team in the league to have beat the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, and Toronto Raptors at least once this season. They are currently 5-2 against those three teams. That’s a .714 win percentage. Against the other 26 teams in the league, the Thunder have a .585 win percentage.

Luckily for the Thunder, this is the time of year where the spotlight shines the brightest. And so, they have performed so far. This game will be a little bit more of a challenge. Boston has been one of the best teams in the league, but injuries have beset them of late. And so, what Thunder team will we see today? The one that would play against a fully healthy Celtics team or the one that will coast in this game because the competition will be lesser?

Previous Meeting: The Thunder and Celtics met previously this season at the beginning of November, where Boston came back on the Thunder in the 4th quarter and won 101-94. In the game, the Thunder held an 18-point heading into halftime. And then that thing where the Thunder visit the Monstars’ planet at halftime and forget how to play basketball in the 2nd half happened. The Celtics went on to outscore the Thunder by 14 in the 3rd quarter and then 11 in the 4th. The Thunder tried to come back in the end, but Al Horford and Kyrie Irving scored the final 22 points for the Celtics in the final 5 minutes of the game to hold off the Thunder.

Looking At The Numbers

1. Injuries – The Celtics will be without Jaylen Brown (concussion), Kyrie Irving (knee), Marcus Smart (thumb), and Daniel Theis (knee). Those are four major rotational players for the Celtics. But considering they are a well-coached team that is system-based, the Celtics will still probably be competitive with the players they have. If the Thunder don’t bring their A-game, they could be in a more competitive game than they need to be.

2. Make Your Shots – Despite all the injuries, the Celtics still have the highest rated defense in the league. Good news for the Thunder, though, is the fact the the Celtics are missing two of their best perimeter defenders in Smart and Brown. The Thunder need to take advantage of this and hit their shots from the perimeter. Hopefully, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, and Corey Brewer can continue their hot shooting from the perimeter. With the lack of offensive threats from the wing for the Celtics, look for heavier minutes for Alex Abrines.

3. Russell Westbrook – The King of the Prairie goes for his 6th triple-double in a row. After winning the most recent Western Conference Player of the Week, Westbrook looks to continue his hot play against the Celtics.

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