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With Philly out of the way, it’s derby time at Ford Center

By John Rohde Modified: December 3, 2009 at 4:42 am •  Published: December 3, 2009

OK, it’s derby time at the Ford Center.

That’s the way Thunder center Nenad Krstic describes Friday night’s game against the Boston Celtics.

A native of Serbia, Krstic said playing in a big game in Europe is referred to as "a derby.”

When you’re talking about the 17-time World Champion Celtics, hey, nothing gets lost in translation.

Wednesday night offered four local teams playing at three in-state locales — the Thunder at the Ford Center; Oklahoma at the Lloyd Noble Center; Oklahoma State and Tulsa at the Reynolds Center — but Friday night belongs to the Thunder and Celtics.

The Thunder properly prepped for the derby by beating Philadelphia 117-106 on Wednesday before a crowd of 17,332, but there’s a huge difference between disposing of a 5-14 team now riding an eight-game losing streak and facing a 14-4 machine dressed in green.

"They’re a good team,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Boston during his post-Philly interview session, and he said it at least five times.

The Thunder roster is so young, they relate only to the Celtics in their current state, the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

Thunder forward Nick Collison, who is all of 29, said he can recall the Larry Bird and Kevin McHale days because his father was a big Celtics fan.

"I didn’t hate ’em or love ’em while I was growing up,” said Thunder rookie guard James Harden, age 20. "All I noticed is how well they all played with each other. They’re a great team. They have every position.”

Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha was born in Switzerland, so he’s pretty neutral on his feelings toward just about everything, including the Celtics.

His team’s top defender, Sefolosha said he isn’t sure what assignment he’ll draw on Friday. "I’ll guard whoever coach tells me to guard,” Sefolosha said.

Presumably, he’ll start out on future Hall of Famer Pierce, but also figures to spend some time on future Hall of Famer Allen.


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