Sunday will feature a Western vs. Eastern conference showdown as the Oklahoma City Thunder (33-18) travel to the TD Garden to take on the Boston Celtics (33-19).
For the Thunder, who currently sit 3rd in the Western Conference, they come into this one rolling, having won 7 games in a row. In their last matchup on Friday, they beat the Miami Heat 118-102 in Miami. For Boston, who currently sits 4th in the Eastern Conference, they are also playing well, winning 8 of their last 9 games. Their last loss was against the Golden State Warriors, a 115-111 loss suffered last Saturday. Since the loss, though, they have won 3 straight over the Nets, Hornets, and Knicks. The two will match up on Sunday with tipoff scheduled for 2:00 pm ET.
In this contest, the Boston Celtics come in as 4-point favorites playing at home. The over/under on total points scored comes in at 226.
By The Numbers
On the offensive side, Boston comes in as the more effective team in this one. When it comes to adjusted offensive rating, which estimates points scored per 100 possessions while taking into account the opponent’s defense, the Boston Celtics come in at 10th in the NBA, averaging 112.66. For the Oklahoma City Thunder, they come in at 17th overall, averaging 109.92 points.
Defensively, both of these teams sit near the top. In adjusted defensive rating, the Thunder come in 2nd in the NBA, allowing 105.61 points per 100 possessions (again taking the opponent’s offense into account. For the Boston Celtics, they rank 4th overall, allowing 106.76 points.
Thunder Look To Make It 8 In A Row
Sitting only 3 games back of both the Nuggets and Warriors for the top spot in the West, Oklahoma City would certainly love to continue their winning ways. They will certainly have their hands full on Sunday as they travel to a very tough Celtics team.
Leading the way for the Thunder this year have been the two-headed monster of Russell Westbrook and Paul George. For Westbrook, he is averaging a triple-double with 21.5 points, 10.9 rebounds and 10.9 assists per game. That assists mark leads the NBA according to Basketball-Reference. He is also tied with teammate Paul George for the lead league in steals per game, averaging 2.3. Speaking of George, the forward is averaging 27.6 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists in addition to those steals. He is also shooting 45.4% from the field and 41% from behind the arc.
Aside from these two, the other notable contributors for Oklahoma City include Steven Adams (15.3 points, 9.9 rebounds), Jerami Grant (12.9 points, 5 rebounds) and Dennis Schroder (15.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists).
Celtics Looking To Claw Back Into Eastern Conference Race
Currently 5 games behind Milwaukee for the lead in the Eastern Conference but only half a game ahead of the Pacers, the Celtics know they need to continue winning to challenge for a higher seed. While rumors swirl of possible trade scenarios with the New Orleans Pelicans to bring in big man Anthony Davis, the Celtics have a pretty solid squad as it already stands.
Leading the way for Boston is guard Kyrie Irving. Irving, who could explore free agency this offseason, is averaging 23.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game. The 23.6 points currently puts him 14thin the league in scoring per game. He is also averaging 1.7 steals while shooting 49.7% from the field and 41.2% from behind the arc.
The other major contributors for the Celtics have been Jaylen Brown (12.7 points, 4.3 rebounds), Gordon Hayward (10.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists), Al Horford (12.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists), Marcus Morris (14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds) and Jayson Tatum (16.2 points, 6.1 rebounds). As evidenced from this, they certainly have the depth to compete with anyone, but it remains to be seen if they have the star power that is needed to make it through to the NBA Finals this year.
Pretty Even Matchup
This is one of those matchups that is pretty tough to call as I think they actually match up pretty well. I like the top-end scoring options better for the Thunder in Paul George and Russell Westbrook, but I like the depth options considerably more in Boston. They both play well on the defensive side so I think this could come down to just one or two possessions deciding the outcome. With a matchup so tight, I have to go to the side that is getting the points. As a result, for my money, I will take the Oklahoma City Thunder at +4.