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Celtics Look to Teach Young Thunder a Lesson

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Boston (15-4) @ Oklahoma City (10-8) Game Preview

Friday, December 4th, 8:00PM EST

Venue: Ford Center


Game # 20, Away Game # 10 Road Trip Game: 4/4, 2nd night of back-to-back


The Celtics are in the middle of some sort of streak or something (shhhh...lets not talk about that), but these are not your father's thunder. The last time these two teams met, the Celtics beat the Thunder by almost 20 points, and I joke you not, Mikki Moore had a double double. The Celtics are 4-0 versus the Thonics (Sunder?) since the former Sonics tore apart their roster trading away Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. They've made virtually no roster moves since last season's trade for Thabo Sefelosha. Paves the way for a good feeling about tonight right?

Wrong! These Thunder are dangerous. Sure, we're winning a few games now, but these Thunder have been shocking people all season long. In just the last month, they've beaten Orlando, San Antonio, and Utah. They took the Lakers to overtime. Kevin Durant is currently 4th in the league in scoring at 27+ per game. Russell Westbrook is playing like a top 10 point guard at 16 points and 7 assists a contest. They're 4-0 at home, and that's not even the worst of it.

They're winning games, but they're doing it not only on the backs of premier offensive players like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, they're doing it by some mystical magical beast known as "team defense". They're allowing just under 95 points per game, which is good for 7th in the league, while scoring about 98 points per game.

So that's the bad news. Want the good news? Boston allows Roughly 91 points per contest and scores roughly 100, which is good for a league best +9.0 differential. Oklahoma City might be the trendy new kids on the block, but Boston is coming into town the battle tested junkyard dogs. If anyone is going to show these kids how to play defense that wins games, it ought to be us.

Probable Starting Lineups:

Boston Celtics
PG Rajon Rondo 33.4 10.8 4.0 9.2
SG Ray Allen 35.6 15.8 2.8 3.2
SF Paul Pierce 35.7 18.5 4.5 3.8
PF Kevin Garnett 30.6 14.5 7.3 2.7
C Kendrick Perkins 27.4 11.6 7.6 1.1
6 Rasheed Wallace 20.8 9.1 3.9 0.8
7 Marquis Daniels 20.4 6.0 2.1 2.1
8 Eddie House 16.3 6.7 1.4 0.8
9 Shelden Williams 14.1 5.2 4.0 0.6
10 Brian Scalabrine 6.5 1.7 0.2 0.2

OKC Thunder
PG Russell Westbrook 34.5 16.3 4.6 7.2
SG Thabo Sefelosha 32.8 6.8 5.8 2.0
SF Kevin Durant 39.3 27.7 7.1 3.3
PF Jeff Green 35.1 14.8 6.1 1.7
C Nenad Krstic 23.6 8.5 4.9 0.5
6 James Harden 20.6 9.0 2.8 2.5
7 Nick Collison 17.9 5.1 3.9 0.3
8 Etan Thomas 16.3 3.8 3.3 0.0
9 Serge Ibaka 13.6 3.7 4.0 0.0
10 Mike Wilks 12.7 3.0 1.3 0.7

Injuries and Stuff-

Boston: Glen Davis (out), Tony Allen (out), Bill Walker (D-League)

OKC: Kyle Weaver (out), Kevin Ollie (out), BJ Mullens (D-League)

Major Matchup: Paul Pierce V Kevin Durant

December, she is a hard mistress for Paul Pierce. 8 ppg, 1 apg, 2rpg. 29% from the field. It would not be a stretch to say he's had a rough couple of games recently. They've both been wins, so we're not talking about that, but Mr. Pierce should (but doesn't NEED to) pick up his play a little bit, and Durant is the perfect guy to help him out.

Despite being 6'9 with the wingspan of a pterodactyl, Durant hasn't been the best defender in the world up to this point in his career. Pierce tends toward a physical style of play, using his body and quickness to get to places that just nudge someone out of the range of being effective as a shot deterrent. Durant isn't the same toothpick he was in 2007, but he's not strong enough to stop Pierce from getting where he wants to get, and he's not smart enough to not fall for Pierce's tricks.

The real challenge for Pierce though will be to contain Durant's scoring. The guy hung 28 points of Ron Artest, 27 on Trevor Ariza, 35 on Caron Butler. Durant is the second best scoring SF in the league right now, and Pierce is going to have to go 100% on the defensive end to hold him under 30.

Other Notable Match-ups:

Russell Westbrook V Rajon Rondo- Rondo is super fast, Westbrook is super fast. Rondo racks up the assists, Westbrook racks up the assists. Rondo leads the league in steals. and Westbrook...he does not. Rondo is no question the better defender, and he did a pretty good job on Tony Parker last night. He ought to hold Westbrook down, but if Westbrook manages to start getting to the basket, the Thunder will be a much better team offesively.

Thabo Sefelosha V Ray Allen/Paul Pierce- Thabo is not a threat on the offensive end. He can score, but he probably won't, not on us. That's not his role though anyways. Thabo is the player that many have attributed OKC's recent dedication to defense to. He'll hound Ray Allen all over the court and if Durant is not in, he'll do that same to Paul Pierce. We have a virtual arsenal of weapons but there are times (many it seems) that our offense sputters. If we're not working, and Thabo has shut down Pierce or Allen, this could be a hard game to watch.

Keys to the Game for the Good Guys:

1) Rebound, please. Just rebound: 20 offensive rebounds to 2. That's the differential of San Antonio's offensive rebound numbers compared to Boston's. And it wasn't Manut Bol grabbing those rebounds, it was 6'4 DaJuan Blair, and Manu Ginobli, and George Hill. They were hustle rebounds, and we weren't matching the hustle. On the second night of a back to back the hustle will be even more of a concern.

2) Manage Durant- Durant has become one of those guys you can't really 'shut down'. McGrady was like that a couple of years ago, Kobe is ike that now, so is LeBron. We're not going to hold Durant under 15, but if we can hold him under 25 and keep him below 40% shooting, this is an easy win. Pierce will give him all the pressure he can, but it's going to take a team effort.

3) Don't fall asleep in the third quarter- We're going to be tired we're going to be a little dull. This is a team we've traditionally dominated and we're on the tail end of one road trip before we head home for a solid 6 days rest (and a stomping of Brandon Jennings in there too). They're going to be thinking of their lazyboys and home cooking all night, so Doc has got to keep the focus on.

Bill Walker Watch: 1 game, 0 pts, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 earth shattering life changing dunks
Probability of significant playing time: 0%

-Home opener against the Springfield Armor tonight for ol' Billy boy.

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