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Celtics hit the road to take on OKC Thunder

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The Celtics hit the road for their first trip out west and their first of two meetings with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports


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Boston Celtics (4-4) at Oklahoma City Thunder (6-3)
Sunday, November 15, 2015
7:00 PM ET
Game #9, Road Game #3
TV: CSNNE, FSOK, NBA-LP 758(DTV)/757(Xfinity)
Radio: WZLX 100.7, WWLS 98.1 FM
Chesapeake Energy Arena

Referees: Zach Zarba, Lauren Holtcamp, David Jones

The Celtics hit the road for their first trip out west and their first of two meetings with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Celtics get lucky that the Thunder's star Kevin Durant is out with a hamstring injury. But then again, both Durant and Ibaka missed their final meeting last season and the Thunder still won it, ending the Celtics' 5 game win streak.

The Thunder are the Celtics' toughest test yet. They have a tough starting 5, even without Kevin Durant. Russell Westbrook has posted 3 consecutive triple doubles. And the Thunder are on a 3 game win streak. They won their first three games, lost the next three games and now have won their last 3 games.

Avery Bradley has missed the last two games for the Celtics with a calf injury. He is listed at day to day but hoping to return for this game. Both teams have a young head coach brought to the NBA out of college. Brad Stevens has already made an impression on the NBA while Billy Donovan is just getting started and hoping to have the type of impact that Stevens has.

Both teams are playing in the first of back to back games. The Thunder will travel to Memphis for a Monday night game vs the Grizzlies while the Celtics head to Houston for a game against the Rockets.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

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Marcus Smart vs Russell Westbrook

Shooting Guard
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Avery Bradley vs Anthony Morrow

Small Forward

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Jae Crowder vs Andre Roberson

Power Forward
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Amir Johnson vs Serge Ibaka

Center
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Jared Sullinger vs Steven Adams


Celtics Reserves
Evan Turner
RJ Hunter
Jonas Jerebko
David Lee
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
James Young
Tyler Zeller
Kelly Olynyk

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Injuries
Avery Bradley (leg) day to day



Thunder Reserves
DJ Augustin
Nick Collison
Josh Huestis
Mitch McGary
Enes Kanter
Steve Novak
Kyle Singler
Cameron Payne
Dion Waiters

Head Coach
Billy Donovan

Injuries

Kevin Durant (hamstring) out



Key Matchups
Key Matchups
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Marcus Smart vs Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook has been a one man wrecking crew this season. With Durant out, he is taking on more of the load for OKC. He is averaging 25.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 10.9 assists and is coming off of his second straight triple double.

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Amir Johnson vs Serge Ibaka
Serge Ibaka is always a tough matchup. He is averaging 13.2 points, 8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks. He is always a threat to block shots and can score easily at the rim. He is also a threat from the outside. Amir Johnson is coming off his best game as a Celtic and they will need him to step up again in this game.

Honorable Mention
Jared Sullinger vs Steven Adams
Adams is a load inside and has height on Sully. Adams is averaging 6.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks. Sully needs to his his outside shots to draw Stevens away from the paint.

Keys to the Game
Rebound
- The Thunder lead the league in rebounding with 50.8 per game. Their big front line of Ibaka and Adams (with Kanter off the bench) make it difficult for opposing teams to grab rebounds. The Thunder are 6-1 when they out-rebound their opponents. The Celtics need to put the same grit and hustle on the boards in this game as they did against the Hawks.

Defense - Defense is always a key to winning. The Celtics will need to defend the perimeter as well as the inside because they have players who can score both inside and out. The Thunder are 2nd in the league in scoring at 113.3 points per game. They are 2nd in 3 pt% at 39.4% and 3rd in FG%at 47.7%. If the Celtics allow them to shoot like that, then they will have a tough time getting a win. If there is one area where the Thunder are vulnerable it is in turnovers. They are 4th in the league with 17.0 turnovers per game. If the Celtics can force the Thunder to turn the ball over, they may turn to easy baskets.

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 need to move the ball and find the open man. The Thunder like to run and the Celtics will need to match their energy and run as well.

Take Care of the Ball - The Celtics have had periods where they get careless and turn the ball over way too much. They are 9th in the league in turnovers at 15.9 per game. If they turn it over against the Thunder, they will make them pay.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics have to be aggressive and fight for loose balls, 50/50 balls, rebounds, and be aggressive on defense and in going to the hoop. They have to be the more aggressive team and the one that wants it more. They were the more aggressive team against the Hawks and that worked out well. They have to bring that same hustle vs the Thunder.

X-Factors
On the Road - The Celtics are on the road and the Chesapeake Energy Arena is one of the toughest places to play. Their fans are loud and make it tough for teams coming there. The Celtics got a tough win on the road in Milwaukee. Can they get another one here?

Focus on Offense - When the Celtics are hitting their shots, they can compete with anyone. But when they struggle, they can't throw it in the ocean. Hopefully they bring their focus and hit their shots in this game.

Official Report
Zach Zarba

Zach Zarba has officiated 764 regular season NBA games, 39 playoff games and three Finals game during his 12 year career. Prior to joining the NBA, Zarba officiated in the NBA Development League for two years, where he was part of the crew that officiated the 2003 D-League Finals. He also spent one year officiating in the CBA and two years officiating in the IBL. Zarba has three years of collegiate officiating experience in the ACC, SEC, Colonial, ASUN, OVC and NEC Conferences. In addition, he has three years of high school officiating experience in New York.

The Celtics are 1-0 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Zarba. He called the first game of the season vs the Sixers and the officiating in that game was good. In a win over Cleveland last season, however, Zarba made 3 terrible calls down the stretch which prompted Tommy to say "Zach Zarba, every time we have this guy he makes things up." The Thunder are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Zarba. His home W/L record this season is 3-5.

Lauren Holtcamp
Lauren Holtkamp is entering her second season having officiated 50 regular season games during her first year as a full-time staff official. Holtkamp has six seasons of NBA D-League experience and worked the 2013 and 2014 NBA D-League Finals. She also officiated four seasons in the WNBA and worked the 2014 conference finals. Additionally, Holtkamp officiated in numerous college conferences, including the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, American, Big East, and the Colonial Athletic Conference.

She also officiated various FIBA competitions, including the 2010 World University Games, and the 2012 and 2013 FIBA Americas Championships. Holtkamp graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration in 2003 and a Master
of Arts in Communication in 2004 from Drury University where she was a member of the 2003 Women’s basketball team that competed for the 2003 Division II National Championship. She went on to earn her master of divinity from Emory University in 2010.

The Celtics are 0-3 over Holtcamp's career while the Thunder are 2-2 over her career in the NBA. In a game against Milwaukee last season, that she called with tonight's fellow referee David Jones, the officiating was particularly terrible. There were missed calls on both sides all night. Even the Bucks fans were mentioning how they were getting all the calls and they couldn't believe it. Tommy was livid through the entire game and at one point said, "These refs shouldn't be calling a high school game. Tell girlie to get on home." He later apologized for calling her girlie, but wouldn't back down about how bad the refs were in that game. Her home W/L record this season is 3-3.

David Jones

David Jones has officiated 1,556 regular season games and 71 playoff games throughout his 26 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 games. Last season against the Magic, he was terrible. He called a flagrant 2 on Smart, which was later downgraded and then he called an even worst flagrant 1 on Isaiah Thomas. The officiating was one sided throughout the game with Orlando shooting 30 free throws to 16 for the Celtics. He also called that atrocious game against the Bucks with Lauren Holtcamp where several times Tommy was exasperated and just called for the refs to go home because they were missing everything. It really was bad. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games while the Thunder are 6-4 in their last 10 with Jones. He is a homer ref with a home W/L record so far this season of 5-2