The evening started off in a whirlwind with news that Kyrie Irving, who has been sidelined with knee soreness, was heading to get a second opinion. Initially, the news was reported by Tony Massaroti and appeared to sound like something had changed in Irving’s situation making surgery a more likely situation option than was initially believed. However, the concern was quelled a little bit by ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarkowski who reported that there was no structural damage in Irving’s knee and that the Celtics still believed that rest was the best remedy and that they could still have Irving back for the playoffs.
We’ll see what comes out of the second opinion, but based off what we know the move seems more like due diligence on Irving’s part as opposed to an assessment of new damage. We’ll have updates on the site as they become available.
So, about the game.
The game started sloppy with both teams trading 8 points apiece by midway through the first. A Tatum dunk got the crowd on their feet, a weird Aron Baynes sequence where he sat down an entire possession and stood up just in time to nearly be posterized had crowd scratching their head, but overall the lack of half-court offense was not a surprise. Stevens, understanding that the Thunder refuse to stagger minutes took out Tatum and Horford early in an attempt to keep some semblance of offense on the floor at all times. The transition of going from Tatum and Horford to Ojeleye and Nader correlated with the Thunder starting to find their groove. The combination of the Celtics being unable to create any half court offense with the Thunder aggressively attacking the hoop with little regard for human life flipped ignited them on a 15-5 run. Some late baskets by Larkin and Tatum allowed the Celtics to regain balance as they went staggering into the first quarter down 26-18.
The first part of the second quarter started the same way most of them start for the Thunder. Their second unit came in and instantly gave up a chunk or all of their lead. The Celtics lead by Monroe and Tatum grinned their way from a 10-point deficit to a one point game after Tatum free throws (32-31). The Celtics continued rolling and went on a 19-6 run led by seven consecutive points by Rozier.
The Thunder were able to recover a bit led by a couple of three’s by George and Westbrook, but the damage was mostly done and the Celtics were able to squeak out of the first half only down 45-48.
First Half Numbers
The second half started off with an aggressive Al Horford dropping two three pointers (in between a missed layup) and another sweet Tatum drive where he blew by Steven Adams and split defenders in the air for a smooth layup. That kid is good. An 11-2 run momentarily put the Celtics up by 5 (57-52).
The Thunder were responded with their own run and regained a 7-point lead led by Russell Westbrook (71-64). As the end of the quarter began the Celtics brought back in Tatum as the Thunder filed out Westbrook, George, and Anthony. The result? Boston closing the quarter on a 9-4 run headlined by a buzzer beating three by Shane Larkin to bring the game within one possession at the start of the quarter (75-73).
Fourth quarter began sluggish with both teams playing with a lot of effort, but unable to convert much offensively. The offense was being run primarily through Greg Monroe who gave us the full display of great passing, solid post work, and his quick hands that got him a transition and-1 layup to tie the game at 79. The Thunder responded with an 8-3 run led by back to back three’s to push their lead to 5. Celtics went about 4 minutes without scoring before Tatum finally got a 3 to that was quickly responded to with an Anthony three.
With under a minute left and the game looking in doubt with the Celtics down 5 with under 15 seconds, Rozier got up the court and calmly drained a three-pointer in the face of Westbrook to cut the lead to two (99-97). The Celtics followed Anthony on the inbound and to the surprise of everyone he missed both free throws, giving the Celtics a chance with about 7.7 seconds left to give the team a chance to win or tie. And then, Marcus Morris did this:
The Celtics will begin a 4-game road trip that will first take them Portland for a marquee matchup with the Blazers before finishing off the trip against the Kings, Suns, and Jazz. Hopefully, Jaylen Brown will be back in time to join the team on the trip.