Oklahoma City Thunder at Boston Celtics Preview
The Oklahoma City Thunder (33-18) will make the journey to Boston to take on the Celtics (33-19) this Sunday. This will be the teams’ second meeting this season as the two previously matched up on October 25th, with the Celtics taking the game 101-95. Both teams have been on hot streaks lately and both are 8-2 in their last 10 games.
The last matchup was a tight one that saw the two teams separated by only one point headed into the 4th quarter and featured 9 lead changes. Expect another close matchup this time, as the Thunder are certainly hungry for revenge and look to hold their strong position in the West. They are currently 3rd in the standings, behind only the Nuggets and Warriors, and are just 3 games out of first place. The Celtics are currently 4th in the East and are 5 games out of first place. They too look to gain ground as they trail the Bucks, Raptors, and 76ers. With both teams hot and in strong spots for a playoff berth, expect an exciting one.
Time: 2:00pm ET
Arena: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Oklahoma City Thunder Starting Lineup
Talk about a team that has been on fire recently. The Thunder enter Sunday’s game coming off of a 118-102 win over Miami on Friday. They have won eight of their last 10 games and are currently on a 7-game win streak. Paul George is averaging an impressive 27.6 points per game and Russell Westbrook comes in averaging close to 11 steals and 11 assists per game. In terms of overall scoring, the Thunder as a team are currently 5th in the NBA averaging 114.5 points per game
Defensively, the Thunder prove to be just as strong as the Celtics, as they lead the league in steals per game with an average of 10.2. They also rank 3rd in rebounds per game. Along with his impressive offensive prowess, Paul George ranks in the top 10 in the NBA in overall defensive rating (101.4).
In their most recent game against the heat, Paul George exploded for 43 points and Westbrook added 14 assists and 12 rebounds of his own. Dennis Schroder also dropped 28 points and made an impressive 11 field goals in 13 attempts. George has led in scoring in each of the last 8 OKC games. If he keeps up his offensive tear, the Celtics defense could be in trouble.
Boston Celtics Starting Lineup
Season after season, the Celtics find themselves in the midst of the playoff race. This season is no different. The Celtics as a team are averaging 113 points a game, which is good for 5th overall in the NBA. That number is in large part due to Celtics leading scorer Kyrie Irving who is currently averaging close to 24 points per game. In terms of overall number of points scored, the Celtics are currently ranked 10th in the NBA, one place over the rival 11th ranked Thunder. Successful offensive performances are in part due to the Celtics 3-point game as they currently rank 2nd in the NBA in 3 pointers made (behind the Rockets).
On the defensive end, the Celtics are currently ranked 2nd overall in the NBA, behind only the Bucks, with an overall defensive rating of 104.6. They are also 4th in the NBA in both steals and blocks, averaging 5.8 and 8.9 per game, respectively.
The success of the Celtics is mostly due to their ability to work well as a team. The Celtics do not have any players ranked in the top 10 of both the overall offensive and overall defensive ratings. Yet, the team fields an overall net rating of 6.8, good for 2nd among all teams. Let’s see if the Celtics strong team chemistry and good defense can lead them to another regular season win over the red-hot Thunder.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Boston Celtics Betting Odds
With a win against the Thunder earlier in the season and home-court advantage, ESPN predicts that the Celtics have about a 67.5% chance of winning this one. Boston’s odds of winning are listed around -154, yet the home town favorites are only predicted to win by the small margin of 2 points. One must also take into account the Thunder’s recent thrashings of any teams that step in their way. No matter who you choose to win, there is no doubt that this will be a close one.
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