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Thunder vs. Celtics Preview: Oklahoma City hobbles along without Durant

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The improved Celtics should be a challenge for the KD-less Thunder.

WBB

Where They At: Oklahoma City Thunder

Despite an uneven start, the Thunder are about where they wanted to be at approximately 10% through the season. The standings and stats have OKC as a top-three team in the West, neck-and-neck with San Antonio and a notch below the Warriors. They're on a three game winning streak to boot. But, Kevin Durant is hurt. A 7-10 day absence from a strained hammy isn’t as alarming as a foot ailment would be, but a dinged up KD in 2015-16 is about the most major minor injury around. In their first full game without him, they cruised to a victory against the Sixers, but so has every other Philadelphia opponent this year.

Where They At: Boston Celtics

The Celtics haven’t scorched the Eastern Conference, but they’ve been very good so far, and taken down quality teams. They’re coming off an impressive win over Atlanta, and Brad Stephens has been getting production from Boston’s starless but versatile roster.

The Matchup

On an individual basis, it should be fun to watch Marcus Smart play bulldog counter to Russell Westbrook. Smart isn’t nearly as far along in his game, but he’s one of a handful of guards anywhere near Westbrook’s intensity level. OKC hasn’t lost a game to Boston since 2012, but these Celtics are formidable. We saw more from this Thunder team without Durant last season than this, and I expect there to be some shakiness as they try to get along without him, especially against well-coached, deep opponents.

Prediction: Celtics 108 Thunder 104

2015-16 NBA Season Game #10
@
4-4
(Won 1)

6-3
(Won 3)
November 15th, 2015
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City
6 PM Central Standard Time
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma, CSN, NBA League Pass
Injury Report: Kevin Durant (Out), Avery Bradley (DTD)
This Season's Matchups: N/A
Probable Starters
Russell Westbrook PG Isaiah Thomas
Anthony Morrow SG Marcus Smart
Andre Roberson SF Jae Crowder
Serge Ibaka PF Amir Johnson
Steven Adams C Jared Sullinger