According to this article over on Celtics Blog, Kevin Garnett may be given the night off as the Thunder make their way to Boston to take on the defending World Champion Celtics. While that may be good news for the Thunder, it may not really make much of a difference either way. The last two games the Thunder have played, the team hasn't performed very well at all. The first of those two was getting blown out, at home, to the Los Angeles Lakers, and then again on the road this past Friday when the Thunder just straight got thrashed in Toronto by the Raptors. It seems like all of the sudden, the Thunder have fallen into playing uninspired losing basketball.
The reason KG may get to sit is because the Celtics are trailing the Cavs by 5 games in the race for the top seed in the East, and only have 8 games to play. So, although they are tied with Orlando, having a healthy KG for the playoffs is probably more important than using him up trying to solidify that 2nd seed, as opposed to resting him, and potentially entering the playoffs as the #3 seed. There is no risk of dropping down past #3 either because after the Magic and Celtics, its a rather huge record drop off to Atlanta at #4 who is 12.5 games behind the Celtics, with no chance at moving any higher.
So while Kevin Garnett may not be out there reaking havoc on the Thunder defense, Glen "Big Baby" Davis likely will be. No, he's no Garnett, but he doesn't have the word "Big" in his nickname for nothing. Davis is 6'9" and tips the scales at close to 300 pounds. Sadly, Oklahoma City doesn't really have anyone inside with the bulk to deal with a guy that big. Sure Nick Collison is going to be the guy asked to battle against Big Baby, but there is only so much Nick can do against a guy of his size. Not to take anything away from Nick, because if anyone can defend this guy its going to be him, I'm just trying to point out the rather large size disparity he'll have to overcome to shut him down.
The fun matchup to watch tonight will be Paul Pierce and Kevin Durant. Durant will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders tonight to have a solid defensive performance against one of the better players in the league. At the same time, he'll have to carry his usual load scoring the ball. It's going to be fun to see if Kevin is capable of guarding a guy like Pierce as we close in on the end of his second season, as well as watching to see if he's capable scoring a lot of points at the same time.
If the Thunder hope to win this game, they are going to have to play better on the defensive end. The last few games, we haven't seen the tenacious defense that has become common place since the infusion of Thabo Sefolosha. It was that defensive mindset and team first style of play that was having the Thunder pile up win after win while Durant was out, and Scott Brooks should and will be emphasizing that tonight.
You can also check out a nice Q&A I did with Celtics Blog over at their site later on today. I just wanted to say thanks to all the guys over there who do a great job, and for asking me to contribute to their fabulous Celtics Blog with a little pregame question and answer session. They were gracious enough to reciprocate as well, but unfortunately I ran out of time to do a little research and send some questions their way. Maybe next time, but thanks anyway, and can't wait for the game tonight.