This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.
Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time
Place: The Ford Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma, Comcast Sports Net New England
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1)
Enemy Blog(s): CelticsBlog, CelticsGarden, There's like a Million Others
Matchup: The Celtics are one of, and possibly the best team(s) in the NBA. They've been cruising to the top ever since the season started, and they look to have a better year than last. As everyone knows, last season Kevin Garnett got injured towards the end of the year, leaving them not much better than the lower-seeded Bulls. But, this season, they have added the veteran Rasheed Wallace to their bench, along with Shelden Williams and Marquis Daniels. They come into the Ford Center on a strong 6 game win streak, with their last loss being November 20th to a strong Magic team.
Meanwhile, the Thunder are coming off of a expected win against Philadelphia, and a somewhat dissapointing loss against the Rockets. Don't get me wrong, the Thunder's track record is strong, but it's not nearly as serious as Boston's track record. It's going to be a complete uphill battle.
Below: Matchups, Prediction
Center: Nenad Krstic vs. Kendrick Perkins
It's no secret that Kendrick Perkins is and always has been the weak spot in the Celtics starting lineup. Unfortunately, this year, he's much more than a weak spot, averaging 12 Points and 8 Rebounds. I'd expect him to pretty much dominate Krstic in the post. Hopefully Krstic will be able to step out and shoot his jumpers, but I don't think Boston's front line is as lazy as Philadelphia's.
Power Forward: Jeff Green vs. Kevin Garnett
There's just no possible way I see Jeff Green winning this matchup. He's struggled against worse big men in the past, so I think the struggle will only increase when facing one of the best big men in the NBA.
Small Forward: Kevin Durant vs. Paul Pierce
This is probably the most interesting matchup of the game, as Paul Pierce and Kevin Durant have very similar games. I'd expect Durant to finish better, but only because he has less talent around him than Pierce does.
Shooting Guard: Thabo Sefolosha vs. Ray Allen
Thabo doesn't do well against drivers, but he does do well against shooters. Hopefully he can phase Ray Allen a bit tonight, as it will probably be a big key into winning this game. That being said, expect Ray Allen to blow Sefolosha away in the scoring department, hands down.
Point Guard: Russell Westbrook vs. Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo is averaging one less assist than points this year, so he's having his best assist year ever, along with his excellent defensive skills. Expect Russell Westbrook to struggle a lot offensively, yet (hopefully) revert to his assisting form.
Battle of the Benches
The Celtics win here, hands down. They have possibly the best true backup in the league in Rasheed Wallace, a solid streaky shooter in Eddie House, and another solid backup in Marquis Daniels. This isn't even mentioning defensively minded Tony Allen and perennial backup Shelden Williams, who easily beat the guys the Thunder have as 9th and 10th men.
Coaching and Intangibles
The Celtics have everybody healthy sans Glen Davis, and they are in full speed ahead mode as they try to rack up 7 straight and get home court advantage throughout the playoffs. Pretty much every intangible except for the fact that the Thunder are at home and more well-rested is on the Celtics side.
Last year, we were able to compete with the Celtics for 2-3 quarters or so, but lost badly when they decided to put the accelerator down in the 4th quarter. Look for them to do the same tonight, unless Sefolosha can somehow stop the march of Ray Allen, Krstic can knock down some jumpers, and Westbrook can actually be productive offensively. Still, all of that is pretty doubtful.
Prediction: Boston 103, Oklahoma City 89
Hey, at least we'll be within range at halftime!
How do you think the game will go? Vote in the Poll!
And, again, feel free to drop any comments you might have during, before, or after the game below. I'll be in the Ford Center cheering the team on, but I'll be back to write a recap later tonight. Go Thunder!