Tip-Off: 6 PM CST
Location: Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
PG Isaiah Thomas is the floor general for the Celtics, and his stats show it. Thomas averages 26.0 points and 6.2 assists a game, and while he’s not an overall high-percentage shooter, he has a decent shot from beyond the arc (33.1%). Thomas is also extremely proficient at drawing fouls. He averages almost 9 free throw attempts a game, and he makes 88.6% of his attempts. Russell Westbrook needs to take advantage of the undersized Thomas and keep him in check.
Keys to the Game
- Protect the Perimeter: Boston ranks 5th in the NBA in three-point attempts per game (31.1) and 4th in three-point makes per game (11.2), and the Celtics have a large handful of players who can and will shoot without reservation from behind the arc. Oklahoma City needs to play intense perimeter defense and keep Boston from getting open looks that lead to easy points.
- Power in the Paint: Because the Celtics are so proficient from behind the arc, not nearly as many of their points come in the paint. Boston ranks 21st in the NBA in points in the paint with 41.2 per game and 25th in the league in 2nd-chance points with 12.1 per game. The Celtics also give up 14.6 2nd-chance points per game (26th in the NBA). Oklahoma City ranks first in the NBA in points in the paint with 50.3 per game and 10th in 2nd-chance points with 13.8 per game. The Thunder should look for mismatches down low and exploit the Celtics inside the paint.
- Control the Tempo: It is no secret that Oklahoma City likes to run in transition any chance possible. The Thunder ranks 2nd in the NBA in fast break points with 17.3 per game, which comes as no surprise with Russell Westbrook running the show. Boston, on the other hand, ranks 22nd in fast break points with only 12.1 per game. The Thunder need to take care of the ball and control the flow of the game in order to come away with a win.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.