Tip-Off: 6:30 PM CST
Location: TD Garden (Boston, MA)
Television: FSOK, NBA TV
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 26.7 points and 6.2 assists a game, and he is shooting a solid 34.9% from behind the arc. Like Russell Westbrook, Thomas is effective at drawing fouls. He averages almost 9 free throw attempts a game, and he has made 89.5% of his free throw attempts so far this season. Thomas did not play in the first matchup between the Thunder and Celtics just under two weeks ago, so this will be the first time Westbrook and Thomas will go head-to-head this season. Westbrook is a much stronger and more athletic player than Thomas, but Thomas is a crafty point guard, so Westbrook needs to play solid defense tonight.
Keys to the Game
- Run the Floor: Boston plays a much slower game than Oklahoma City plays, and this aspect definitely impacted the first meeting between the two teams. The Thunder managed only 13 fast break points despite averaging over 17 a game at the time. The Thunder currently ranks 4th in the NBA with 16.5 fast break points a game, and Russell Westbrook will undoubtedly look to push the tempo tonight in Boston.
- Points in the Paint: When Celtics played the Thunder in Oklahoma City a couple of weeks ago, the Thunder excelled down low by scoring 66 points in the paint to the Celtics’ 52 points in the paint. Steven Adams and Enes Kanter both scored in double digits with 16 and 14 points, but Al Horford led the Celtics in scoring with 19 points. Oklahoma City also out-rebounded Boston 49 to 40. If the the Thunder can take care of business in the paint, they should come away with the win.
- Win Behind the Arc: Oklahoma City is 27th in the NBA in three-point shot percentage making only 33.1% of their attempts. While this is admittedly bad, this is nowhere near as bad as the Thunder shot in the first matchup with the Celtics when Oklahoma City had their worst three-point shooting outing of the season making only 3 of 21 attempts. Boston is not necessarily a great three-point shooting team, but much better than the Thunder. The Celtics are shooting 34.9% from three for the season, and they shot 34.4% a couple of weeks ago in Oklahoma City. The Thunder does not necessarily need to shoot better than Boston, but they definitely have to shoot better than they did on December 11th.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.