|2013-2014 NBA Season|
|January 5th, 2013|
|Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma|
|6:00 PM Central Standard Time|
|TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Comcast Sports Network Northeast|
|Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM/640 AM), 98.5 The Sports Hub|
|Injury Report: Russell Westbrook (Out), Rajon Rondo (Out)|
|Previous Matchups: None (Last Season's Series Was Tied at 1-1)|
|Reggie Jackson||PG||Jordan Crawford|
|Thabo Sefolosha||SG||Avery Bradley|
|Kevin Durant||SF||Jeff Green|
|Serge Ibaka||PF||Brandon Bass|
|Kendrick Perkins||C||Jared Sullinger|
|2013/14 Advanced Stats|
|99.1 (4th)||Pace||95.4 (20th)|
|106.5 (5th)||ORtg||98.9 (23rd)|
|97.7 (2nd)||DRtg||101.7 (10th)|
When I heard the inevitable news that Boston's "Big 3" era team was officially breaking up at the end of last season, I was devastated. I loved watching that grimy, veteran squad play, and I especially enjoyed their matchups with the Thunder. The Celtics never seemed to be at full strength, but they always were ready for a tough defensive matchup that would see lots of great plays on both ends and a thrilling finish.
Whether this new Celtics team can carry on that tradition remains to be seen. They're a defensive bunch for sure, playing a slow pace and mashing their opponents into submission. The only problem is that the talent isn't at the level that it's supposed to be. Rajon Rondo is biding his time in returning from his injury, and the rest of the team ranges from good to role player status. Simply put, the Celtics have valuable players as far as 11 men down their rotation, but they simply don't have the star power to carry them through important games on a consistent basis.
The closest thing they have to that, though, is our old friend Jeff Green. Green never seemed to be able to attach himself to a role in Oklahoma City. He was too lean to play power forward, and too lanky to justify putting him at shooting guard. Thus, he played as a tweener power forward, and became an abstract third scoring option and sometimes defensive/rebounding liability before he was traded to Boston for Perk. Who got the better end of that deal is still up for debate, but it's safe to say that Green will be motivated to best his old teammates.
Anyway, tonight's game is going to be won by the team that can be most consistent on offense. The Thunder have had a couple of late-game collapses against Brooklyn and Portland, and they had to rely a whole lot on KD to pull them through against Minnesota yesterday. The Celtics aren't exactly hard to outscore, but they're good at bringing teams down to their scoring level, unless the other team has a huge matchup advantage. Thus, I see this one going down much like the Thunder's matchup with the Bobcats a couple of weeks ago. It'll be a low-scoring battle with occasional offensive bursts, but the Thunder will power through in the end with a star.
What do you think will happen in tonight's game? Let us know in the comments!