Watch It! - Thunder at Celtics
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight at TD Garden.
Durant is Streaking
Kevin Durant has been really, really good throughout his first six-plus seasons in the NBA. Right now, he’s playing the best he ever has.
Durant is in the midst of an incredible streak in which he’s scored at least 30 points in nine consecutive games. He has averaged 38.9 points per game during the streak while shooting 52.6 percent from the field, 39.3 percent from 3-point range and attempting an average of 13.4 free throws per game.
The Celtics stand as the last team that held Durant to fewer than 30 points. He scored just 21 points against Boston on Jan. 5. We’ll find out tonight if the C’s can contain him yet again.
Wallace Still a Starter?
Chris Johnson has played well and Boston also added Vander Blue with a 10-day contract, but Brad Stevens is still leaning on his veterans while his team is shorthanded. Stevens opted to move Jeff Green to shooting guard and insert Gerald Wallace as the starting small forward Wednesday night rather than starting one of his 10-day guys.
That move paid off in big ways against Washington. Wallace put together what may be his best all-around performance of the season with nine points, six rebounds, nine assists and four steals. He also scored the game-winning basket with 2.5 seconds remaining in overtime.
There’s a good chance that Stevens will go with Wallace in the starting lineup again tonight but there is no guarantee. If Jerryd Bayless is able to play, he could start and move Wallace back to the bench. We’ll find out when Stevens addresses the media before the game.
First-Time Matchup at PG
Fans typically flock to a Celtics-Thunder game to watch a premier matchup at point guard between Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook. We won’t have that matchup tonight, as Westbrook is out with a right knee injury, but we’ll still be able to watch a pretty good one.
Rondo will be playing in his fourth game of the season tonight after resting during Wednesday’s win over the Wizards. He is averaging 5.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG and 4.3 APG thus far.
On the other side of the ball will be Reggie Jackson, who dropped 27 points on Boston earlier this month. Jackson has averaged 14.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG and 4.8 APG in 18 games as a starter this season.
These two players have basically never faced off against each other. It will be a lot of fun to watch them battle it out for the first time tonight.
The Celtics were able to grab a win Wednesday night despite missing their top three guards. Rondo (rest), Avery Bradley (ankle) and Bayless (toe) all missed the game.
Somehow, Boston still figured out a way to manufacture points without those three perimeter players. The C’s did so by jacking up a season-high 34 3-pointers against the Wizards. They made 16 of them, thanks in large part to Jeff Green’s 8-of-16 performance from beyond the arc.
Let’s look at this from a realistic standpoint. Boston is not a great 3-point shooting team. The team is unlikely to hit better than 40 percent of its attempts, especially if they’re taken in bulk. The Celtics are going to need to figure out some other ways to manufacture points.
Johnson’s Impressive Minutes
Today marks the one-week anniversary of Johnson signing with the Celtics. He was signed to a 10-day contract before the C’s took on the Lakers a week ago.
Johnson has appeared in two games for the Celtics and played very well in each of them. He scored 11 points and grabbed three boards in his first appearance, then logged nine points and four steals against the Wizards on Wednesday.
The Celtics couldn’t ask for much more out of Johhson since he joined the team. Let’s hope he can keep the ball rolling against Oklahoma City.