And with that, we've beaten every single team in the NBA. What, there's a team from Cleveland? With a guy named LeBron James? That team doesn't exist. And even if we did, we only lost to them by one point. So there.
All silliness aside, this was a huge win. In all previous meetings between these teams, the Thunder have stayed close early on, but then proceeded to get blown out by the other team. This game started out like the others.
The Thunder were staying close early on, and it remained close throughout the second. But this game was made in the 3rd quarter. Whereas in all 3 previous meetings the Thunder would have collapsed under the Celtics' early second half pressure, in this game the Thunder actually stemmed the tide. The Celtics widened their lead to 6, but the Thunder came back, eventually gaining the lead on two Durant free throws at the very end of the 3rd.
Below: More Recapping, Analysis, Awards
But for what was almost a fantastic finish, the game had a sub-par conclusion. With 1:55 to go in the 4th, Jeff Green put the Thunder up by 4 with a clutch 3 Pointer. Ray Allen responded with an And 1 layup, and Jeff Green hit another Clutch 3, keeping the Thunder up by 4. And then, all went silent. The Celtics missed 3 consecutive shots, Sefolosha hit a free throw, and the Celtics missed again. That's not to say that this wasn't a great win, or that the Thunder haven't done a great job. But what does strike me is that when it came down to it, one of the most experienced teams in the league mounted to a bunch of baloney. And don't try to say that this game wasn't important to them, because a higher seed is only a couple of games away, and nobody wants to face Cleveland in the 2nd round.
One of the remarkable things about this game was how evident it was that Kevin Durant had massively improved his defense since the start of the season. Early on, opposing Small Forwards would run all over him, no matter what the situation. Here, he limited Paul Pierce to just 15 Points on 5 of 10 Shooting. now, I'm not going to sit here and say that Pierce being semi-injured for the game had nothing to do with the fact that his performance was down. Nevertheless, Kevin Durant stuck to him like glue and constantly was denying him opportunities to score. This forced the Celtics to rely more on Ray Allen, who was guarded heavily by Sefolosha. In the end, I'm not saying Durant's defense was spectacular, but it was at least average, and that's a lot better than the horrible defense we're used to seeing.
On to the Awards....
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, 37 Points, 8 Rebounds, 2 Assists. Just another Amazing game from KD....
Thunder Down Under: Russell Westbrook, 21 Points, 10 Assists, 2 Turnovers. If we would get this out of him every night, it's hard to imagine us having very many losses.
Thunder Blunder: Nenad Krstic, 6 Points, 2-7 Shooting, 2-4 Free Throws, 8 Rebounds. Not a horrible performance from Krstic, but when you get fouled, the least you could do is make your free throws. In a game where the team as a whole performed so well, somebody has to get the finger pointed at them.
Thunder Plunderer: Rajon Rondo, 16 Points, 5 Rebounds, 11 Assists, 4 Turnovers, 5 Steals. 4 Turnovers is a little high, but when you have 5 steals, it's all forgiven. Rajon Rondo is the star that has kept the Celtics experiment together, and without him, I'm not sure where they would be at right now.
Next Game: At the Mavericks, Saturday, April 3rd, 7:30 PM Central Standard Time