“We knew it was going to be a physical game, the way Boston plays. They play a hard, tough, physical, defensive-minded basketball,” Brooks said. “We did a good job of matching that toughness. I thought our fourth quarter defense was as good as it can be.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said: “We were bad all game offensively. Sometimes you want to win too bad and that was us today.”
OKC shot 48.5 percent after halftime to finish at 44.1 percent for the game. Only three players found double-digits in scoring, led by Kevin Durant with 23 points (6 for 16 from the field) and 11 rebounds, Russell Westbrook (5 for 11) with 15 points and Kevin Martin (4 for 12) with 12.
“The best news for us is that we have a great offensive team with 91 points scored tonight,” Rivers said of the Thunder, the NBA’s highest scoring team at 107.0 per game. “In the second half, we stopped making the mistakes we had been making, but offense never changed. We just couldn’t get it going and we missed open shots.”
The OKC bench outscored the Boston bench 32-23 and got a significant boost from Collison (eight points, five rebounds), guard Reggie Jackson (six points, four rebounds) and veteran guard Derek Fisher (six points, two rebounds).
Though they lost NBA assist leader Rajon Rondo for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, the Celtics entered Sunday’s game 14-4 since Rondo went down.
Sunday was not a routine victory over a storied franchise. It was a challenge against a team that knows what it takes to survive the postseason.
“Boston is one of those teams that really test your defensive principles because they execute so well,” Collison said. “They screen every time, they cut hard every time, they make the right pass, so they’re going to expose breakdowns.”