Tomorrow night we’ll see a clash of the titans between the Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder and former NBA champion Boston Celtics. The game will take place in Boston and both teams are coming off of a well deserved Thanksgiving off-day.
While neither team has lived up to preseason expectations, they have both had decent starts to the year. Boston enters this game 6-6 with identical 3-3 records at home and on the road. Surprisingly, their offense has been what carries them so far this year. They are averaging over 97 points per game thanks in large part to Rajon Rondo. Rondo is averaging 14 points and 13.3 assists so far this year, cementing his place among the league’s elite point guards.
Defense has been the problem in Boston. They are giving up over 99 points per game. The Celtics are known for their defense, but theoretically this makes sense. Kevin Garnett, the team’s defensive anchor, has to keep him minutes limited and when he’s off of the court the Celtics struggle. The team’s other stopper, Avery Bradley, is still recovering from an injury. With those two on the court the Celtics should be among the league’s better defensive teams.
Oklahoma City hasn’t particularly struggled, sporting a spectacular 9-3 record, but they don’t look like quite the same team they used to be. Kevin Martin has been remarkably efficient in replacing James Harden, but he isn’t the all around player that Harden is. Russell Westbrook has struggled as the team’s sole creator and Kevin Durant has had to take on an increased role in running the offense. As good of a shooter as Martin is, he won’t be able to give the Thunder those things, and until they find a way to replicate Harden’s production they are going to struggle against elite competition
Betting Preview: Boston Celtics (+3.5) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
I’m going to keep this one as simple as possible. Boston’s record is deceiving. They don’t take lesser competition seriously, but when elite teams come to their building the Celtics always step up. The Thunder may be one of the best teams in the league, but a great team like Boston should be able to expose them at home in a similar to manner to what San Antonio did to them in their season opener. I expect the Celtics to be pumped up from the start here and give the Thunder all they can handle. I think at the very least they’ll get the cover.
The Pick: Boston Celtics (+3.5) (5dimes.eu)