Oklahoma City Thunder (2-6) at Boston Celtics (3-3)
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
7:30 PM ET
Game #7, Home Game #4
TV: CSNNE, FSOK,NBA-LP 755(DTV)/752(Xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WWLS 98.1 FM
Referees: Joey Crawford, David Jones, Leon Wood
Kendrick Perkins and the Oklahoma City Thunder make their only visit to TD Garden this season on Wednesday. The Celtics will visit Oklahoma City on March 18 for their second and final meeting with the Thunder. Along with Perk, former Celtic Sebastian Telfair will also return to the Garden with the Thunder.
The Thunder have been hit with injuries about as hard as a team can be hit and still play. They received a hardship exception to sign Ish Smith and are just one injury short of a second exception. All Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are both out along with 4 other reserves. They are still a dangerous team, however as they found a way to beat the 5-1 Kings at home before setting out on an east coast road trip.
Anthony Morrow, who is a threat from the perimeter, returned to the Thunder for Tuesday's game vs the Bucks. Marcus Smart and Vitor Faverani will be out for the Celtics. Marcus Thornton sprained his ankle in Tuesday's practice and is also out for tonight. Rajon Rondo missed Saturday's game for a minor procedure on his hand but practiced yesterday and is on track to return to the starting lineup for this game.
Along with all of the injuries, the Thunder are also playing in the second of back to back games, having lost to Milwaukee on Tuesday night. The Celtics, on the other hand, come into this game well rested, having last played on Saturday. The Thunder are 0-4 on the road while the Celtics are 2-1 at home. But the Celtics aren't taking the undermanned Thunder for granted. They still recall last season when the Thunder came into the Garden and beat them by 18 without their two stars.
Probable Starting Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Reggie Jackson
Avery Bradley vs Jeremy Lamb
Jeff Green vs Lance Thomas
Jared Sullinger vs Serge Ibaka
Kelly Olynyk vs Steven Adams
Vitor Faverani (knee) out
Marcus Smart (ankle) out
Marcus Thornton (ankle) out
Rajon Rondo (hand) probable
Russell Westbrook (hand) out
Kevin Durant (foot) out
Grant Jarrett (ankle) out
Perry Jones (knee) questionable
Mitch McGary (foot) out
Andre Roberson (foot) questionable
Jared Sullinger vs Serge Ibaka
Serge Ibaka is one of the Thunder's stars who isn't out with an injury and he is playing very well. He is averaging 17.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. He is also shooting 42.4% from beyond the arc. Sully will have his hands full with this matchup.
Kelly Olynyk vs Steven Adams
Steven Adams has come into his own this season, winning the starting center position. He is a very physical player and isn't afraid to mix it up under the basket. He is averaging 9.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 0.1 blocks per game.
Player to Watch
I still love Perk! He has been playing well off the bench for OKC this year and although his stats of 5 points and 5 rebounds per game don't jump out at you, anyone who has watched Perk knows that the stats just tell part of the story. He is a rim protector and will box out so that his teammates can get rebounds. He also sets a mean pick to get his teammates open. Perk should get a nice hand when he comes into the game. Boston still loves Perk (I sure do)!
Keys to the Game
Rebound - The Thunder have out-rebounded their opponents in every game so far and it has allowed them to stay in games when they lacked the firepower to match other teams. The Thunder are averaging 42.9 rebounds per game while the Celtics are averaging 44.3 rebounds per game. The Celtics will need to put extra effort into crashing the boards.
Defense - Defense is always a key to winning. The Thunder, like the Celtics have bigs who can score from the outside. Serge Ibaka is shooting 42.4% from three and Nick Collison is shooting 38.5% from three. The Celtics will need to defend the perimeter as well as the inside because Ibaka can also get to the hoop, as can Steven Adams. The Thunder allow opponents to shoot just 43.8% from the field, which is 10th best in the NBA. The Celtics allow 47.3% and will need to match OKC's defensive intensity if they want to get a win in this one.
Pace and Space - The Celtics need to set the pace and continue to run and to move the ball. When they slow down, they aren't near as effective as when they are running on every possession. They also can't play hero ball. They are best as a team sharing the ball and spreading the scoring as they did against the Bulls.
Underestimation and Fatigue or Rust
Hopefully the Celtics won't underestimate the Thunder because of all of their injuries. They are still very dangerous. The Celtics are well rested while the Thunder are playing back to back on the road. Fatigue may be a factor down the stretch. On the other hand, the Celtics are well rested but they could also be a bit rusty from not playing since Saturday.
Joey Crawford - Joey Crawford is perhaps the one ref that evokes fear and loathing at the mention of his name. Over more than three decades in the NBA, Joe Crawford has officiated 2,500 regular season and 331 Playoff games, including 49 NBA Finals games. Crawford’s Playoff and NBA Finals totals are the most among active NBA officials. Over his career, Crawford has officiated the 1986, 1992 and 2000 NBA All-Star Games, as well as the 1993 McDonald’s Championship in Munich, Germany. Prior to joining the NBA, Crawford officiated in the Eastern League (CBA) from 1974-76.
There is no shortage of controversy surrounding Joey Crawford, the biggest of which was a suspension for tossing Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench and then challenging him to a fight. He is known for his quickness to call technical fouls but also doesn't tend to be influenced by the home crowd as much as many younger refs seem to be. In the 2008 Playoffs, Crawford was chosen to officiate Game 4 of the Western Conference final between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. In the closing seconds of the game, there was a no-call where the Spurs' Brent Barry was unquestionably fouled by Derek Fisher. Crawford was the closest official to the call, and the NBA later apologized for the lack of a call. Crawford was also one of the refs who was involved in the income tax evasion scandal in 1998 and was suspended at that time as well as being sentenced to six months of house arrest and three years' probation Friday for federal income tax fraud.
He is widely viewed as one of the refs in the NBA who can officiate with an agenda and shows his biases on the court, hence the controversy that seems to follow him throughout his career. The Celtics are 3-7 in their last 10 games with Crawford. He hasn't been particularly bad or biased in any of the Celtics recent games. However, Joey Crawford is like the proverbial box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get on any given night. He is one referee in the league who doesn't seem to be influenced by the home crowd. In fact, at times he seems to delight in antagonizing the home fans. The Thunder are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Crawford. His home W/L record this season is 4-2. Here is Joey at his best, making the game all about him.
David Jones - David Jones has officiated 1,494 regular season games and 67 playoff games throughout his 25 seasons as an NBA official. In addition, Jones officiated both the men’s and women’s 2000 Olympic Bronze Medal Games. Jones has eight years of collegiate officiating experience in the Southeastern, Trans-American Athletic, Metro and Sunshine State Conferences.
In the past, he has been pretty good in calling the games. He is a homer ref with a home W/L record so far this season of 6-0. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games while the Thunder are 7-3 in their last 10 with Jones.
Leon Wood - Leon Wood’s connection with the NBA began as a player when he played professionally with Philadelphia, Washington, New Jersey, San Antonio, Atlanta and Sacramento, averaging 6.4 points, 3.2 assists and 1.2 rebounds as a guard during his six-year NBA career. In addition to his NBA playing career, Wood was a member of the Gold Medal winning 1984 United States Olympic Basketball Team, and he won another Gold Medal in the 1983 Pan-Am Games.
During his 18-season NBA officiating career, he has worked 1,113 regular season games and 20 playoff games. Wood has three years of CBA officiating experience and one year of collegiate officiating experience in the Ohio Valley and Trans America Athletic Conferences. He also has one year of high school officiating experience in California.
You would think that being a former player, Wood would try to be fair but he has been a fairly mediocre ref at best. Although he's been pretty good in the Celtics games he has officiated. The Celtics are 4-6 over their last 10 games with Wood officiating. The Thunder are 5-5 over their last 10 games called by Wood. His home W/L record this season is 3-2.