Oklahoma City Thunder vs Boston Celtics
Time: 7PM CST
Location: TD Garden, Boston
4) Starting Five Matchup Battle
The Boston Celtics officially clinched a playoff spot last week. They overcame the early season injury of Gordon Hayward and have been led by the superstar play of guard Kyrie Irving. This Celtics team of late has looked far different from the one that dominated the first half of the season in the Eastern Conference. With no Kyrie Irving or Jaylen Brown in the lineup tonight, the Celtics will need an all around offensive effort.
Terry Rozier and Abdel Nader will most likely be the starting back-court. Rozier has played an invaluable bench role for the Celtics in years past, especially this season with the loss of Marcus Smart, Rozier has fine tuned his offensive game. Nader would get his first career NBA start if Celtics coach Brad Stevens were to go that route. Marcus Morris and Al Horford will attempt to bring most of the offensive production of out the Celtics starting five tonight. Morris is a reliable outside threat who has unyielding confidence in his jump shot.
All-Star Horford will look to be more aggressive on offense and will be guarding the likes of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, both of whom were big factors in the Thunder’s recent win over the Raptors. The emergence of Steven Adams down low has arguably been the most entertaining thing to watch as a Thunder fan this year. His 25 point offensive outburst against the Raptors will hopefully translate over as the Celtics will start Aron Baynes down low. The seemingly unstoppable duo of Russell Westbrook and Corey Brewer will look to provide another duel 20 point performance.
3) Westbrook’s Historic Week
For Russell Westbrook, posting triple-doubles have come with relative ease. In Sunday’s win over the Raptors, Westbrook dropped 37 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and dished out 14 assists in one of his biggest performances of the season. Recently, Russ became just the fourth player in NBA history to amass 100 triple-doubles over his career. He is just two away from passing Jason Kidd on that list. Not only that, but Wesbrook also became one of the fastest players in NBA history to reach 6,000 assists.
When asked about his dominating performances down the stretch, Westbrook stated that: “I am a man on a mission. We’ve got to take care of business. This time of year, you’ve got to turn it up a notch.”
During the course of the Thunder’s six-game winning streak, he has averaged 25 PPG, 11.2 RPG, and 10.8 APG. Westbrook once again enjoys testing the limitations of what a point guard can do. He will be eagerly looking forward to see if he can surpass his own expectations as the Thunder look to make it seven in a row tonight at The Garden.
2) No Kyrie or Tatum for Tonight’s Matchup
When the blockbuster deal emerged this past summer of Kyrie Irving going to the Boston Celtics, he was met with some skepticism, but it appeared his right hand man heading into this season, Gordon Hayward, was going to be a great number 2 option for Irving moving forward. Instead, Hayward’s season ended due to a leg injury and rookie Jayson Tatum stepped up in ways Celtics fans couldn’t imagine.
The combination of Irving and Tatum has created one of the more athletic back courts in the NBA this season. Together, they have been the biggest reasons in why the Celtics currently sit in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference. Tonight the Celtics will have to do battle without Irving as well as Jaylen Brown, giving the Thunder an opportune time to capitalize on adding another win to the streak.
1) Can Thunder push win streak to 7?
During this six game hot streak for the Thunder, they have had to take down the likes of San Antonio, Los Angeles and Toronto. The highlight of this current streak is without a doubt their most recent win up in Toronto. Not only were they playing a team in the Raptors who were on an 11 game win streak, but they beat a Raptors team who had lost just 5 games at home all year up to that point.
With the NBA postseason just a few weeks away, the Thunder knew they would have to find ways to win in any fashion to find solid positioning in a crazy Western Conference. They have done that and more. Since the signing of Corey Brewer, the Thunder have not lost a game (6-0). With the MVP level play of Westbrook, the rest of the starting lineup shooting the ball very well, the bench providing excellent minutes, and of course, excellent coach from Billy Donovan, the Thunder should be able to extend their winning streak at The Garden tonight.
Who do you think will win tonight?
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