Boston Celtics (13-10) at Oklahoma City Thunder (14-9)
Sunday, December 11, 2016
7:00 PM ET
Game #24, Road Game #14
TV: CSNNE, FSOK, NBA-LP 752(DTV)/754(Xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WWLS 98.1 FM
Chesapeake Energy Arena
Referees: Bill Kennedy, Sean Corbin, Jacyn Goble
The Celtics are back on the road to take on the Thunder in Oklahoma City. These two teams went 1-1 last season with each winning on the road. The Thunder are coming off a a loss to the Rockets on Friday night that snapped a six game win streak.
Russell Westbrook has a streak of 7 triple doubles in a row. Should he get one more in this game, he will pass Michael Jordan for the most consecutive triple doubles and be second only to Wilt Chamberlain, who had 9 straight triple doubles. Dating back to last season, the Thunder are 27-3 when Westbrook has a triple double.
However, the Celtics own the longest streak in the NBA of not allowing a triple-double. The last player to earn a triple-double against the Celtics was John Wall in 2014. One of those streaks will end with this game. The Thunder are 10-6 against the Celtics since moving to Oklahoma City. They are 4-4 in that time at Chesapeake Energy Arena. These two teams will meet again on December 23 in Boston.
The Celtics will once again be without their leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas, who is out with a strained groin muscle. He is chomping at the bit to get back on the court but will miss this game and possibly Wednesday's game against the Spurs. Cameron Payne is out for the Thunder with a foot injury.
The Celtics had a very scary experience when the charter plane that they were taking to Oklahoma City received a bomb scare. The plane landed safely in OKC and the players were hurried off the plane, leaving their luggage on the plane. A search found no explosives and the Celtics were reunited with their luggage. We'll have to see if the bomb scare has an effect on the teams' play.
Marcus Smart...Avery Bradley...Jae Crowder ...Al Horford...Amir Johnson
Isaiah Thomas (groin) out
Russell Westbrook...Victor Oladipo...Andre Roberson ...Domantas Sabonis...Steven Adams
Cameron Payne (foot) out
Marcus Smart vs Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook has been a one man wrecking crew this season. Without Durant to share the spotlight, Westbook is leading the team in points, rebounds and assists. He is averaging 30.9 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 11.3 assists and is coming off of his seventh straight triple double. Marcus needs to make it as difficult as possible for Westbrook to have another big game.
Avery Bradley vs Victor Oladipo
Oladipo is the second leading scorer on the Thunder and if Westbrook can't get a shot, he is the next option. Oladipo is averaging 16.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists. Between Bradley and Smart, the Celtics have to slow down the Thunder's starting backcourt.
Amir Johnson vs Steven Adams
Adams is a load inside and has size on Amir. Adams is averaging 11.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.2 steals. Amir has to try to keep him away from the basket.
Keys to the Game
Rebound - The Thunder are 4th in the league in rebounding with 46.1 per game. Their big front line of Sabonis and Adams (with Kanter off the bench) make it difficult for opposing teams to grab rebounds. The Thunder are 6-0 when they have 10 or more rebounds more than their opponents. The Celtics need effort and hustle on the boards if they want to win this game.
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. If there is one area where the Thunder are vulnerable it is in turnovers. They are averaging 15.9 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. Hero ball rarely wins games. The Thunder like to run and the Celtics will need to match their energy and run as well.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics have to be aggressive and fight for loose balls, 50/50 balls, and 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 simply have to play harder.
Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics have had games where they play very well in the first half and build a lead but then let up in the second half. Then in other games they dig a hole in the first half and then play very well in the second half to come back. They have to play hard and be consistent from start to finish.
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 have to focus on playing their game and not let the distractions of the road take them out of their game. One of those distractions was a bomb scare on their airplane that could affect the players going into the game.
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. When the 3s stop falling they have to stop pulling up for 3's but they need to get into the paint and either score or draw a foul or kick it out to an open teammate.
Officiating - Officiating is always an x-factor. How the refs call the game has a big influence on how the teams play. Will they let them play or call every little bit of contact? Will they call it evenly or will they favor one team or the other. Will they be influenced by the home crowd or will they call it fairly for both teams? It all effects the outcome of the game.
The Celtics are back on the road to take on Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.