at Boston Celtics (13-20) at Oklahoma City Thunder (25-7)
Sunday, January 5, 2014
7:00 PM ET
Game #34, Road Game #16
TV: CSNNE, FSOK, NBA-LP 758(DTV)/755,756(Xfinity)
Radio: WBZ, WWLS
Chesapeake Energy Arena
Probable Starting Matchups Point Guard
Jordan Crawford vs Reggie Jackson
Avery Bradley vs Thabo SefoloshaSmall Forward
Jeff Green vs Kevin Durant
Brandon Bass vs Serge Ibaka Center
Jared Sullinger vs Kendrick Perkins Celtics Reserves
Rajon Rondo (ACL)outRed Claws
MarShon BrooksThunder Reserves
Hasheem Thabeet Injuries
Russell Westbrook (knee) out Game Notes
The Celtics begin their tough western trip in Oklahoma City where the Thunder are once again without their all star point guard. Russell Westbrook returned to the court to start the season but was experiencing swelling in his surgically repaired knee which required another surgery. It's been a rough couple of seasons for all star point guards.
The Thunder are playing in the second of back to back games after playing the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Saturday night. So, even though the Celtics are on the road, the fatigue factor may affect the Thunder a bit more than the Celtics.
The Thunder are 7-3 in their last 10 games and 14-3 at home. The Celtics are 3-7 in their last 10 games and 5-10 on the road. The Chesapeake Energy Arena is a difficult place for visiting teams as their crowd is as loud as any in the league.
Kendrick Perkins will be facing his old team, but there no longer any attachments there with Rondo still not playing and Doc, KG and Pierce elsewhere. I still love Perk. On the other side, Jeff Green will be facing many of the teammates he played with for the first 3 1/2 years of his career. Key Matchups
Jeff Green vs Kevin Durant
Jeff Green played alongside of Kevin Durant for the first 3 1/2 years of his career. Kevin Durant also happens to be one of the best scorers in the league and is almost unstoppable. Green will have his work cut out for him in trying to contain Durant. I expect Green to get a warm welcome from the fans as he was a fan favorite when he was there.
Jared Sullinger vs Kendrick Perkins
Perk isn't a big scorer, but he is a very good defender and rim protector. The Celtics need scoring from Sully but he will find it tougher to score with Perk defending him. Keys to the GameRun and Move the Ball
- The only hope the Celtics have of getting any easy shots is to run on every possession and try to get their shot before the Thunder's defenses are set. They also much move the ball and find the open man. They will struggle to score if they lapse into over-dribbling and iso's. Defense
- The Thunder are a high scoring team, ranking 4th in points per game at over 105 a game. The Celtics can't count on simply outscoring them and will need to play tough team defense in order to keep the Thunder from putting points on the board.
- The Thunder lead the league in rebounds per game with just over 47 per game. The Celtics are 8th from the bottom in rebounding with 42 rebounds per game. Rebounding takes effort and the Celtics need to put out that effort to crash the boards if they hope to win this game.
Focus for 48 Minutes
- The Celtics have shown for parts of games that they can play with anyone and they build big leads but then they seem to lose focus and turn the ball over and stop running and passing and give up those leads. The Celtics need to keep their focus for 48 minutes.
- The Thunder are 5th in the league in free throws attempted and attempt over 27 free throws a day. The Celtics are 24th in the league in free throws attempted with just over 20 a game. The Celtics need to be aggressive in going to the hoop, in going after loose balls and in rebounding and defending. The more aggressive team usually gets the benefits of the calls. X-Factors Fatigue and Focus
The Thunder are playing in the second of back to back games and had to travel after the game to get back to OKC. Fatigue could be a factor for them in this game.
Young teams tend to struggle with their focus on the road and the Celtics will need to work hard to keep their focus and not let the hostile crowd shake them.