at Boston Celtics (15-16) at Oklahoma City Thunder (25-7)
Wednesday, February 22
7:00 PM ET
Game #32 Road Game #13
TV: ESPN, CSNNE, FSOK, NBAC
Radio: WEEI, WWLS
Chesapeake Energy Arena
Probable Starting Matchups Point Guard
Avery Bradley 4.1 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.2 APG 0.5 SPG
Russell Westbrook 23.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 5.5 APG 1.9 SPG
Ray Allen 14.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.6 APG
Daequan Cook 5.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.3 APGSmall Forward
Paul Pierce 17.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 5.3 APG
Kevin Durant 27.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.3 APGPower Forward
Kevin Garnett 14.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.7 APG 1.1 BPG
Serge Ibaka 8.3 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 0.5 APG 3.3 BPGCenter
Greg Stiemsma 1.5 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 0.4 APG 1.0 BPG,
Kendrick Perkins 4.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.2 BPG
Mickael Pietrus Injured
Chris Wilcox (groin) questionable
Brandon Bass (knee) out
Rajon Rondo (temper) out
Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) questionable Thunder Reserves
Eric Maynor (ACL) out
Thabo Sefolosha (foot) out
Lazar Haward (orbital) out Team Connections
Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich and Paul Pierce all attended the University of Kansas
Nick Collison and Ray Allen were teammates in Seattle from 2004-07
Kevin Durant, Royal Ivey and Avery Bradley attended the University of Texas
Daequan Cook and Jermaine O’Neal were teammates in Miami during the 2008-10 seasons
Kendrick Perkins played for the Celtics from 2003-11 and was a member of the 2008 Championship team
Nazr Mohammed and Rajon Rondo both attended the University of Kentucky
Lazar Haywood and Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers both attended Marquette University
Chris Wilcox played for the Thunder franchise from 2005-2009 and was a member of the inaugural Oklahoma City Thunder team in 2008-09..
Ray Allen played for the Thunder franchise in Seattle from 2003-07 before they moved to OKC.Game Notes
What's left of the Celtics continue their road trip in Oklahoma City where they will once again face my very favorite player, Kendrick Perkins. The Celtics are going to be shorthanded with Rondo missing his second game in a row due to suspension, JO and Chris Wilcox being questionable, and Bass still being out. If Wilcox and JO can't go in this one, we are down to 2 bigs left, Greg Stiemsma and JaJuan Johnson.
To say that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have been clicking on all cylinders would be an understatement. Over their last 2 games, they have combined for 154 points between them. The Celtics on the other hand, as a team, have combined for 153 points over their last two games.
The Thunder lead the West with a 25-7 record while the Celtics have once again slipped below .500 with a 15-16 record. The Celtics are 4-6 in their last 10 games while the Thunder are 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Celtics have fallen to 4-8 on the road while the Thunder are an impressive 13-1 at home. The Celtics have lost 4 in a row and the Thunder have won 3 in a row.
When Rondo received his suspension, Doc told him he could go back home but he stuck around with the team for this game. This game happens to be on his 26th birthday and Perk has planned a birthday party for him in OKC. He may be out of the game, but the party is still on.
This is the final game before the All Star break for the Celtics. Unless something very unexpected happens, they will be going into the break on a 5 game skid. Let's hope the second half of the season goes much better than the first half did. Key Matchups
Paul Pierce vs Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is making a case for being the best player in the NBA and Pierce will have his hands full trying to guard him. Durant is also a good defender so this may be a tough game for Pierce who continues to struggle with his game.
Kevin Garnett vs Serge Ibaka
KG is expected back for this game and will have his hands full with Serge Ibaka, who posted the league's very first triple double including blocks a couple of games ago. Ibaka is very quick, athletic and physical. He could give KG problems on both ends of the court. Honorable Mention
Greg Stiemsma vs Kendrick Perkins
Perk will always be a Celtic. But he's also one of the more competitive players in the league. As much as he loves his former teammates, they will be the enemy while he is on the court and expect him to be his snarly best in this game. On the other side, the Celtics are running out of bigs. With Bass still out and JO and Wilcox both going out in the last game and questionable for this one, I'm going to take a wild stab that it will be Stiemsma getting the start by default. Keys to the GameLimit Turnovers
- The Celtics haven't appeared to be very focused in recent games and have turned the ball over way too much. They need to focus on ball handling and on taking care of the ball and thus limit fast break opportunities for the Thunder off of steals. Rebound the Ball
The Celtics have to crash the boards in order to prevent second chance points and fast break opportunities for the Thunder. The Celtics have been out rebounded by a margin of 190-154 in their last 4 games, all losses. Rebounding takes effort and desire and the Celtics haven't shown a lot of either when it comes to rebounding. They have to put out more effort on the boards if they want to win. Defense
- Defense has got to be the Celtics #1 priority. They have been playing decent defense in spurts but other times, they allow teams to get to the hoop and to get their shots off way too easily, especially put backs and tip ins. They must commit to team defense if they want to get back on the winning track.
- The Celtics have got to be more aggressive in going to the basket and not settle for jumpers. If they are aggressive, they will get more calls and thus more points at the line. They also have to be aggressive in going after loose balls and rebounds. NO MORE INJURIES
- This is pretty much self explanatory. X-Factor
The Celtics are missing some very key players and may have to end up playing VERY small ball for much of the game because they are running out of bigs. About the only way the Celtics can win this game is if the Thunder underestimate them and don't play their hardest. With Perk on the team, I don't see that happening though.