Sunday, January 5, 2014
W2W4: C's vs. Thunder (Game 34 of 82)
By Chris Forsberg
The Boston Celtics (13-20, 5-10 away) visit the Oklahoma City Thunder (26-7, 14-3 home) on Saturday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena (7 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:
- THUNDER AT A GLANCE: The Thunder rank fifth in the league in offensive rating (106.5) and second in defensive rating (97.7). They are sixth in defensive rebound rate (76.1 percent) and first in total rebound percentage (53 percent). About the only area of weakness is turnovers as the team ranks 22nd in turnover percentage, hindered in part by the absence of Russell Westbrook. Of course, the Celtics rank 27th in the league in turnover rate, so it's not much of an advantage if Boston can't take care of the basketball itself.
- GREEN BACK IN OKC: Jeff Green, Boston's leading scorer at 15.8 points per game, is back in Oklahoma City to face the organization that drafted him 5th overall in the 2007 draft and groomed him over his first 3+ seasons in the league. Green finished 2-of-11 shooting with only eight points in his only other visit to OKC last year. Over Boston's last five games, Green is averaging only 13 points on 37.7 percent shooting over 28.8 minutes per game and is minus-23 in that span.
- NUMBER THAT JUMPS OUT: The Celtics rank 30th in the league in offensive rating over their last five games, which explains how they've lost four of five (despite owning the 11th best defensive rating in the league in that same span). The Thunder lost two of their last three and ball-handling is the only glaring area of weakness (high turnover percentage and low assist-to-turnover rate). Again, it's on the Celtics to harass Reggie Jackson and disrupt the Thunder offense.
- WHAT ELSE?: Can Jared Sullinger find his shooting touch despite his recent woes? He missed 14 shots in Friday's loss to New Orleans and is shooting a mere 27.6 percent over his last five games overall. ... Kelly Olynyk is a team-best plus-11 over the last five games. Only Phil Pressey (+2) and Kris Humphries (+1) are also in the positive. ... The Celtics are opening a daunting five-game road trip and have lost all four games they've played on the road against the West this season.
(Read full game preview)