Oklahoma City Thunder (11-2) at Boston Celtics (4-7)
Time: 8:00 PM EST. Monday, January 16, 2012
Game #'s: Game 12, Home Game 7
Venue: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Officials: Ron Garretson, Pat Fraher, Derek Richardson
TV: TNT, NBAC Radio: WEEI, WWLS
The Line: The Celtics have dropped four straight. The Thunder
are probably the best team in basketball right now, and this will
be Perkins' first game back in Boston since 'the mistake'. The
two teams split their two meetings last season.
Game Thread | Chat Room
Please play this song while reading the preview. The hip bongo drums and smooth 70's pop-rock set the tone.
Let's get it out of the way right now. I miss the ever-lovin' crap out of Kendrick Perkins. No knock on the guys we have now, I don't want to talk about the particulars of the trade, but I miss Perkins.
He misses Boston too, but we're big boys now and we need to move on.
And, he has. He's moved on to a legitimate title contender this year, a team many have called the favorites to win the chip, and that team is currently only a half game out on the best record in the league at a pretty 11-2. However, their schedule so far hasn't hit any of the traditional powerhouses from last season besides Dallas twice, and they split those two games.
So what's that tell us? It tells us that Dallas is very good at winning the games they're supposed to win (which I've always believed to be a mark of an elite squad), and they're a little iffy-er on the games that maybe they're supposed to have a tough time with. Pretty standard for a contending squad.
And, considering the Celtics' current state, its a pretty fair bet that they're going to get blown out tonight.
But throw common sense out the window for a second (how do you know you're likely about to say something that will in hindsight seem stupid? You say things like 'throw common sense out the window for a second'), and look at this for the opportunity that it is.
The Celtics need a jump-start. They need a proving ground. They've beaten bad teams already. It's all they've beaten. If they went on a six-game winning streak against sub-.500 teams, I wouldn't take them anymore seriously than I do now, and I doubt they'd take themselves anymore seriously either.
They need a big win. Well guess what?
Tonight they're playing the best team in basketball, at home, on national television.
If they lose, big deal. Everyone already expects them to lose. Big if they win, well..that's a different story.
Click on the jump for probably starting lineups, match-up of the game, and a hypothetical conversation between Danny Ainge and Kendrick Perkins.
As always, probably starting lineups brought to you by Florida's Finest, FLCeltsFan!
Rajon Rondo 14.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 10.1 APG
Russell Westbrook 18.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 5.5 APG
Ray Allen 17.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.4 APG
Thabo Sefolosha 5.0 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.7 APG
Paul Pierce 14.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.9 APG
Kevin Durant 25.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 3.9 APG
Kevin Garnett 13.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.4 APG
Serge Ibaka 6.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 0.7 APG
Jermaine O'Neal 5.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.7 BPG,
Kendrick Perkins 5.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.2 BPG
Chris Wilcox (groin) out
Keyon Dooling (knee) probable
Eric Maynor (ACL) out
Ryan Reid (Nasal Surgery) out
Match-Up Of The Night: Russell Westbrook V Rajon Rondo
Paul Pierce is old now. He doesn't take it personally when other strong SF's come along, and frankly Durant is the better player now, and its not even close. Kevin Garnett likely doesn't see Ibaka as a peer yet, and shouldn't. Harden and Ray Allen...I'll get to later. But Rondo and Westbrook is a juicy, juicy match-up. Rajon Rondo can be a bit mercurial when it comes to these types of match-ups. Its a fallacy to think Rondo alone could 'shut Westbrook down', or that Westbrook could do so to Rondo. The rules the NBA has in place, the quickness and skill levels of both players involved, it requires a team effort to limit either player.
So the real question is: Will Rondo take the presence of this false prophet of the point as personal insult enough to drop a triple double on his face, or will Westbrook take advantage of the currently soft-serve Celtics D to make Rondo seem irrelevant?
Keys To The Game For The Good Guys
1) I Don't Want To Be A Tool Or Anything, But Your Emotional Reunion Is Getting In The Way Of Our Statement Game.....: We're fans. We can be emotional, sentimental, irrational, and nostalgic during basketball games. We watch them, we don't play them. Everybody misses Perkins, but the Celtics need to keep their tears on the inside. They're old, they might need the moisture.
2) James Harden Is A Freakin Warlock!: Anytime the Thunder are on TV (and the Celtics aren't), I'm watching them for two reasons. 1) Kendrick Perkins. 2) James Harden. Remember Brandon Roy? Not the bad-knees, say-stupid-things-to-the-press Brandon Roy, but like, 2008 Brandon Roy? That guy way awesome. James Harden isn't that good (yet) but he is a top-5 shooting guard in the NBA right now, he's got an awesome beard, and if he doesn't take Thabo Sefolosha's inexplicable starting role soon, he will also be the sixth man of the year. He is Manu Ginobli 2.0, and his skill-set resembles Manu's. He's on my fantasy team (cha-ching!), but I won't take it personal if the Celtics make him eat his beard tonight.
3) Good Ball Movement+Smart Shot Selection=WIN!: The Celtics are nowhere near as athletic as the Thunder. Everywhere besides point (and even that's pretty debatable) the Thunder hold the athletic advantage. The Celtics, aside from Rondo, are not going to be breaking anyone's ankles tonight. Because of that they've got to play smarter, and they've got to be more efficient. They've got to move the ball well to get those open shots, and they've got to take em and make em when the chance arrives. Ideally, they've got to end up scoring more points than the Thunder over 48 minutes of gametime. That's what I'm getting at here.
Conversations I Believe Happened: Danny Ainge And Kendrick Perkins
Kendrick Perkins (KP): Hey Danny, what's up?
Danny Ainge (DA): Awesome!
DA: Oh, you asked 'what's up'.....oh, nothin'. Another day, another dollar right? You look great by the way.
DA: Yeah we're doing great since you left. Just great. Brandon Bass is doing great, and we got this guy Greg who is like just...awesome. And you know we're just testing the waters, gettin' back out there. Totally awesome.
KP: Cool man. I gotta go get ready.
DA: Yup, yup, gotta get ready for the ol' roundball. Did you know that basketball players used to be called 'cagers'? I miss your scent. Okay buddy, see-ya!
KP: What'd you just say?
DA: Cagers, because there used to be this rope or wire divide that used to separate basketball players from the crowd....
KP: No, after that.
KP: No....before tha...actually, nevermind. Later.
DA: Alright bro-sef! I'll catch you later! Text me!
DA: Bro-sef? Catch you later? What the heck was I thinking? Stupid, STUPID! GET IT TOGETHER, AINGE!