Despite leading by two heading into the fourth quarter, the Oklahoma City Thunder were absolutely smashed by the Boston Celtics tonight, 100-85. Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley led the charge for Boston, combining for 17 fourth quarters points on 6 of 8 shooting. By contrast, the Thunder's Russell Westbrook and Dion Waiters combined for 6 points on 1 of 8 shooting.
The Celtics scored 20 of their points off of 18 Thunder turnovers. OKC's turnovers were the main reason behind their loss, as the Celtics were able to generate most of them in the backcourt. But Boston was also very adept at moving the ball, as the Celtics assisted on 25 of 39 made shots. Put simply, the Celtics moved the ball tonight while the Thunder didn't.
Why did the Thunder lose this game?
You've got to look to the last five minutes of the third quarter, when the Thunder saw a 9 points lead shrink to two. It had a little bit of failure from everyone. Westbrook missed two threes. Waiters missed a three, missed a stepback, and turned the ball over. Ibaka, whom had just hit three shots in the earlier part of the quarter, went four minutes without touching the ball. Enes Kanter committed three fouls, and allowed a couple of layups. Singler took a wild three.
So, basically, the Thunder completely lose the plot. No one is passing the ball, and Boston has made it a game again. But it's about to get worse. At the start of the fourth quarter, Waiters and Kanter basically decide to hijack the team. Both of them forced difficult shots. On the other end, Boston took advantage of Kanter, Singler, and Augustin out on the perimeter. Before you knew it, the Celtics were up by 5.
The Thunder called a timeout with 8:53 to go. Time for Westbrook, right? Wrong. Billy Donovan left the bench on the floor. Collison bricks an open jumper, Singler loses the ball trying to dribble in traffic. Isaiah Thomas hits a three, Avery Bradley hits a three. Now the Celtics are up by 11, and Westbrook/Adams finally enter the game. Ibaka wouldn't see the floor until there was 6:37 to go.
At the end of the day, the blame for this one goes on the Thunder's bench, as well as Donovan's overreliance upon them. Sure, Westbrook could have taken less threes or shot better in the second half. But I still feel like that wouldn't have been enough.
- The Thunder's 7 point first half lead was built through a solid 4-9 shooting performance from Westbrook, with 7-7 FT. Ibaka had 10 of his 16 in the first half. Singler, Collison, Kanter, and Roberson combined to shoot 7 of 9 from the floor during the first half. And OKC was in the bonus at the end of the second quarter.
- Coach Donovan went with Ibaka and Collison together for about two minutes of the second quarter. It resulted in five defensive stops for the Thunder, and was a part of a larger 12-1 run. But Donovan never went to the Ibaka-Collison lineup in the second half.
- Enes Kanter couldn't handle the quickness of Boston's bigs on defense. I won't say Kanter wasn't trying, because he was. But the Celtics were constantly looking to attack Kanter, and it wasn't long before he racked up too many fouls. I wish OKC had gotten the ball to Kanter in the post more, but meh.
- Dion Waiters had three makes tonight. Two were assisted, and the other was a turnaround against the mighty Isaiah Thomas. I wish Dion would stop bringing the ball up the floor and play within the offense instead.
- D.J. Augustin had a really frustrating game. I was initially impressed with his defense on Isaiah Thomas, but he kept trying to do way too much with his passes. Augustin's court vision is impressive, but there are times where I just wish he'd make the safe play. If there was a bit more movement in general, we could witness more of Augustin's awesome catch and shoot game.
- Jared Sullinger and Amir Johnson were really getting into Serge Ibaka at the end of the game. Ibaka got so fed up that he started ranting at the referees and got a technical.
- Anthony Morrow played 15 minutes tonight, and started in KD's place. 2 assists definitely helped out the Thunder's ball movement in the third quarter, but an 0-4 shooting performance kept Morrow out of the late game.
- Kelly Olynyk was probably the Celtics' most effective big today. Olynyk's presence really allowed the Celtics to space the floor, and opened up the paint for their guards. Olynyk finished with a +10 +/- ratio through 15 minutes of action in the first three quarters, which really shows you the impact he had. The Thunder are simply not built to guard centers who can shoot threes.
- Jared Sullinger went 3-12, and I've really gotta give it up to Steven Adams for the majority of that one.
- Steven Adams was given his first "hack-a-adams" treatment of the season at the end of the second quarter today. Went 3-4 on those attempts, and the only miss came after the referee had to stop Adams' second free throw for a substitution. Adams was 6-8 from the line on the night, despite coming into tonight shooting under 50%.
- Andre Roberson hit a corner three, got out in transition once, and hit a tough halfcourt layup. I felt like Dre's defensive presence was key, and that his 0 +/- rating in a 15 point loss speak for itself. Roberson keeps opposing guards in check and starts the break. That's essential for the Thunder's success, and I feel like he should get even more minutes in KD's absence.
- Hard game for Nick Collison. I felt like Nick did a good job of moving the ball early on, but then wasted three critical possessions in the fourth quarter. Two missed open jumpers and a charge.
- Jared Sullinger palms the ball and sticks it out straight in front of himself before shooting every free throw. I've never seen anything like it before, nor has Michael Cage. Sullinger is 66% from the free throw line this season.
Thunder Wonder: Serge Ibaka, 16 Points, 50% FG, 10 Rebounds, 5 Blocks, Impeccable interior D
Thunder Down Under: Russell Westbrook, 27 Points, 15-17 FT, 3 Steals
Thunder Blunder: Dion Waiters, there are no words
Thunder Plunderer: Marcus Smart, 26 points on 9-14 shooting
Next Game: At the Memphis Grizzlies, Monday, November 16th, 7 PM Central Standard Time.
What did you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!