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Celtics bring down the Thunder 132-123

OKC gave its crowd something to cheer about, but the Celtics still took care of business.

Boston Celtics v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

The Boston Celtics won its fourth straight game against the peppy and spirited Oklahoma City Thunder despite resistance at the most annoying of times and a career night from Tre Mann. For the Celtics, Jayson Tatum – 3X Player of the Week this season – continued his recent hot streak as Boston went undefeated on this Western Conference road trip.

For the Celtics, this game was never really in doubt even though the Thunder came storming back late. Boston would go up big time, and then OKC would hit a few threes to make it interesting. Jayson Tatum looked in control all night with 36 points, and Jaylen Brown supported those efforts with 25 points of his own. They didn’t quite score 30 points together again, but they got pretty close.

It was a rough night for the “Danny Ainge can’t draft” crowd with Payton Pritchard (18 points) and Grant “Batman” Williams (20 points, 10 rebounds) each putting on a show at different points in the night. Williams started tonight in place of Robert Williams, and while he doesn’t offer the exact same impact, he left his imprint on the game with great switching defense to go with his dynamic decision-making on offense. For Pritchard, his sweet shooting was complemented by an elevated awareness of driving to the rim. His comfort level with that action unlocked a lot of really good offense.

For the Oklahoma City Thunder, Tre Mann hit his first seven 3-pointers of the night, functioning as the difference between OKC showing up and getting run out of their own building vs. being a scrappy team that gave the home crowd something to cheer for. He was electric offensively, notching a career high of 35 points. In comparison, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander put in a muted effort that grew loud in the fourth quarter, putting up 31 points to go with 9 assists.

It took the Celtics under two minutes to establish a double-digit lead. If nothing else, Aaron Nesmith and Nik Stauskas should be upset at SGA for making things so interesting down the stretch. They likely could have gotten some playing time if the deficit didn’t get down to just 7 points after the Celtics went up by as much as 23.

Derrick White (18-5-5) hasn’t quite broken out of his slump, but an encouraging sign was how much of a connector he was on offense. Without Marcus Smart and easy lob threat Robert Williams in the lineup, easy offense could have been hard to come by. That wasn’t the case, and Boston was able to feed its best options thanks to White and Al Horford’s (7 assists) energetic passing.

If the calendar year was 2021, this would have been a loss, considering how well OKC shot the ball after the first quarter. Down two starters? Yeah that’s an easy choke job. But this is the 2022 Kiss of Death Celtics. They closed it out without any real worry.

The Celtics put their dominant defense and surprisingly good offense to the test Wednesday night when the Utah Jazz come to town. The Celtics sit 2.5 games behind the 1 seed with one head-to-head left against the Miami Heat. The Celtics are also in a virtual tie for the second seed with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks.

For more postgame coverage of the perfect finish to Boston’s undefeated road trip, tune into the the Garden Report Postgame Show LIVE on right after the game. Join A Sherrod Blakely, Bobby Manning, Josue Pavon, Jimmy Toscano and host John Zannis for a full breakdown. Plus, the guys will discuss Pritchard’s continued hot streak.

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