Oklahoma City Thunder look for bounce-back performance against Boston Celtics

Mar 16, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after his basket against the Boston Celtics in the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma City Thunder play host to the Boston Celtics, with both sides looking to bounce back from Friday-night losses. Tip-off is 7:00 PM eastern time, or 6:00 PM central time.

After a run of six consecutive wins, the Thunder were dealt their first loss since November 23rd on Friday, narrowly losing the Houston Rockets.

But Billy Donovan’s side will want to turn their attention to tonight’s match-up, against an indifferent Boston Celtics. Helped by an unpredictable conference, the Celtics do sit fourth in the East. However from 23 games played, they’ve won just 13, despite many predicting them for better things.

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Meanwhile Oklahoma City’s loss against Houston was their sixth of their season by five points or less. Only the Detroit Pistons (November 14th), the Toronto Raptors (November 9th) and the Golden State Warriors (November 3rd) have managed to beat OKC by more.

Dec 5, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) celebrates with guard Isaiah Thomas (4) after a play during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Notably the Celtics boast a better record away from the TD Garden. Boston sit at 8-5 after their first 13 games on the road.  Whilst at home they evenly split their wins and losses five a piece.

But, the side in green have won just three out of eight against Western Conference teams so far this campaign, which will give OKC fans more hope going into the game.

OKC Thunder enter the match-up with a higher average points return than their opponents. Unfortunately they’ve also conceded more at their own bucket. In terms of differential OKC’s stats are 107.0 points for and 104.7 points against, while Boston boast 104.8 produced versus 103.1 conceded.

Previous contests

Since the Thunder’s move from Seattle in 2008, OKC have beaten the Celtics in 10 of their 16 games. This includes a two-year, five-game win streak which ended in 2015. However, last season the Celtics managed gain a draw in the two-match series, beating the Thunder 100-85 last November. In the return fixture in March 2016, Oklahoma blew Boston off the court with a 130-109 victory.

Before last season’s win at the Chesapeake,  the Celtics hadn’t managed a win in Oklahoma City since 2010.

However historically the Celtics have the edge. Looking at the two franchise’s entire match-up log, the Celtics boast 69 wins from 129 games since 1967.

Both sides have a habit of scoring against will against each other too, as since February 2012 only one contestt has seen both sides score less than 100 points.

Marching toward history:

Dec 9, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after a play against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Westbrook enters the game seeking to create history.  If Westbrook produces another triple-double it will mark his eighth consecutive and he’ll become the first player in the NBA to have done so since 1968.

An eighth consecutive triple-double would leave Westbrook poised to tie Wilt Chamberlain’s record of nine.  With Westbrook having equaled the total reached by both Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson on Friday (seven).

Key players and injuries:

The 28-year-old Westbrook leads the Thunder in points (30.9), rebounds (10.8), assists (11.3) and steals (1.35).  Andre Roberson leads OKC in blocks with 1.09 per game.

Other than Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma’s biggest attacking threats are Victor Oladipo and Enes Kanter. The former is averaging 16.8 points per game, whilst the latter is currently boasting a 23.98 player efficiency rating off the bench.

Boston Celtics will be without star man Isaiah Thomas tonight, who is currently leading his team in average points and assists per game. To wit, the five-foot-nine guard is currently achieving 26 points and 6.1 assists per game.

Note: as per CBS Sports Thomas is expected to remain out until December 14th.

Without Thomas in the line-up  his guard partner-in-crime, Avery Bradley will be tasked with leading the scoring.  The 26-year-old shooting guard is currently averaging 17.9 points per game, on top of a team-high 7.7 rebounds. Look for new Celtic – Al Horford, to pick up some scoring slack,  provide key rebounding and captain the defensive efforts of the Celtics.

Aside from the aforementioned Thomas, Boston boast a clean bill of health. The Thunder meanwhile, continue to hope for a return of Cameron Payne. With the guard seemingly having recovered from an injury which has prevented him from playing a single minute of basketball this season. Though CBS Sports lists Payne as being out until December 17th, the fans anxiously await his return.

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