Boy was I wrong, but…
Friday afternoon I blogged the Thunder was catching the Celtics at the perfect time, the back end of a back-to-back, the final game of a four-game, six-day road trip. I felt strong enough, I predicted the Thunder would upset Boston.
Boy, was I wrong.
Just the opposite was true. The Thunder caught the Celtics at exactly the wrong time.
Boston romped to a 105-87 win Friday night to run its winning streak to seven. After a two-week hiccup last month, the Celtics are rolling. They’re 9-1 on the road and are playing tremendous defense. With five versatile offensive weapons, Boston poses pick-your-poison matchup issues that will make it difficult for opposing coaches to game plan.
If the Celtics stay healthy, and play like they have the past few weeks, they’re a title contender, although Orlando and Cleveland will have something to say about who wins the East.
Despite the Celtics dismantling a young team — trash talking and pushing around the 20-something Thunder all night — there was a silver lining.
In the Celtics’ locker room I asked whether the young, athletic Thunder has enough mental toughness to be a playoff team this season.
“They’re a great young team,” said point guard Rajon Rondo. “What hurt them is (Russell) Westbrook got in foul trouble early. He really couldn’t going. When he did come back in he made an impact.
“And (Kevin) Durant was Durant. Along with Jeff Green and (Thabo) Sefolosha they did a great job. When we got stops it was pretty difficult for them to get back on defense and stop us in transition.”
Durant was Durant. He scored 36 points but struggled defensively against Paul Pierce in the first half. Sefolosha was pretty effective whoever he guarded, Ray Allen early or Pierce in the second half. But overall the Thunder’s defense didn’t have a good night. Boston shot 58.3 percent the first half, 56.5 percent for the game.
“I was concerned,” said Boston coach Doc Rivers. “They had been playing so well. Our starters came out and set the tempo for us the entire game… We really shot the ball well. I actually thought they defended some of our shots pretty well. The ball just went in. I thought Rondo’s start of the third quarter was huge for us.”
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