Celtics welcome Perk and the red hot OKC Thunder

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics come back home to welcome former Celtic Kendrick Perkins and the red hot Oklahoma City Thunder.

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Oklahoma City Thunder (33-10) at Boston Celtics (15-29)
Friday, January 24, 2014
7:30 PM ET
Game #45, Home Game #22
TV: CSNNE, FSOK,NBA-LP 757(DTV)/757(Xfinity)
Radio: WBZ, WWLS
TD Garden
Referees: Ron Garretson, Steve Anderson, Mark Lindsay


Game Thread l Chat



The Celtics come back home to welcome former Celtic Kendrick Perkins and the red hot Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder have won their last 5 games and are sitting atop the Western Conference. The Celtics finally stopped their skid in their last game and are looking to win 2 in a row.

The Thunder are on the second game of a 3 game road trip. They started their trip with a big win over the Spurs in San Antonio and will travel to Philly to face the Sixers after this game. The Celtics just finished a 3 game road trip and will play play 2 at home before a quick road trip to New York.

In spite of missing their All Star point guard, the Thunder haven't missed a beat. Kevin Durant is putting up big numbers and Boston College product Reggie Jackson is filling in very well for the injured Russell Westbrook. Rajon Rondo missed the first meeting between these two teams this season but should be good to go for this game.

When they met in Oklahoma City earlier this season, the Celtics came up short 96-119. The Thunder are 14-7 on the road and 7-3 in their last 10 games while the Celtics are 9-12 at home and 2-8 in their last 10.

With Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless expected to be out for at least a week, I'm guessing that Gerald Wallace will once again get the start at the 2. Kevin Durant will be a game time decision with a shoulder injury.

I expect Perk to get a warm welcome from the fans but, as always, he will be all business once the whistle blows. (I still love Perk, in case you hadn't realized that before.)

Probable Starters
Point Guard
vs
Rajon Rondo vs Reggie Jackson

Shooting Guard
vs
Gerald Wallace vs Thabo Sefolosha

Small Forward
vs
Jeff Green vs Kevin Durant

Power Forward
vs
Jared Sullinger vs Serge Ibaka

Center
vs
Kris Humphries vs Kendrick Perkins




Celtics Reserves
Vitor Faverani
Kelly Olynyk
Phil Pressey
Brandon Bass
Joel Anthony
Chris Johnson
Vander Blue

Injuries
Jerryd Bayless (toe) day to day
Avery Bradley (ankle) out
Keith Bogans (personal) out


Thunder Reserves
Steven Adams
Nick Collison
Derek Fisher
Ryan Gomes
Perry Jones
Jeremy Lamb
Andre Roberson
Hasheem Thabeet

Injuries
Russell Westbrook (knee) out
Kevin Durant (shoulder) game time decision

Key Matchups
vs
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. He has scored at least 30 points in his last 9 games. Green will have his work cut out for him in trying to contain Durant. Jeff Green is coming off a 39 point game himself, but has been very inconsistent so there's no telling if he will play well in this game or not.

vs
Jared Sullinger vs Serge Ibaka
Ibaka is very athletic and will be difficult for Sully to cover. He is also a very good shot blocker and so it will be a challenge for Sully to get his shot off without having it blocked.

Keys to the Game
Run 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 very tough defenses are set. They also must 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 going crazy on the offensive end.

Rebound - The Thunder are second in the the league in rebounds per game with 46.5 per game. The Celtics are much better than in the past in rebounding at #20 with 42.8 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 and hang with the best teams, 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, especially against a team like the Thunder.

Be Aggressive - The Thunder are 7th in the league in free throws attempted and attempt 25.5 free throws a game. The Celtics are 26th in the league in free throws attempted with 21.1 FT's 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
Home and Durant
The Celtics are home and so should be able to get a boost from the home crowd. But, on the other side, Kevin Durant is the best player on the planet and can single handedly take over a game, even on the road.

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