Oklahoma City Thunder Beat Down Boston Celtics in OKC: Post-Game Grades for Boston
Thunder Crush Celtics: Grades for Boston
The Boston Celtics traveled to the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday night to try their hand against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The result was far from pretty; the Thunder obliterated the Celtics 119-96. OKC jumped out to a quick 17-9 lead, and never looked back. They used their athleticism to burn the C’s in the open court, and the Celtics had no answer. Kevin Durant was a force in transition; he scored 21 and attempted 10 free throws, while Reggie Jackson tacked on 27 of his own points.
The Thunder clamped down on defense, and didn’t allow any easy buckets at the rim.
Boston was able to trim the Thunder's lead late in the second quarter thanks to the stellar play of Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford, who combined for 27 first-half points on 11-17 shooting from the field, but it was to no avail.
The Thunder led by 10 at halftime, but the third quarter was where it started to get ugly for Boston. OKC controlled the game for the entire period until Jeff Green's transition buckets stole back the momentum with around four minutes to go. Thanks to Green, the end of the 12-minute nightmare, Boston had only been outscored by five.
This match was important for the Celtics, as it was the first of a tough stretch of five games on the road. While collectively the C’s looked far from impressive out there, a few important players established a good rhythm at some point during the game, which is an encouraging sign. Hopefully, said players will able to carry over their performances into the upcoming games.
Point Guard: Jordan Crawford
Crawford was one of the only Celtics players that looked good all night. He seemed confident and relaxed the whole game, and started off scorching from three-point land. Crawford was aggressively searching for his own shot when Boston needed some buckets in the first quarter. Most of the looks he was getting early were jump shots, but as the game went on he started to penetrate more, which allowed him to create for his teammates. J. Craw ended the night with 17 points and seven assists.
Shooting Guard: Avery Bradley
Much like Crawford, Bradley came out of the gates on fire, knocking down his first four shots. He started off looking slightly reserved on the defensive end, but ramped up the intensity as the game went on. Bradley has become very consistent on both ends of the floor lately, which is an exciting trait, especially from such a young player. He finished with 19 points on 16 shots.
Small Forward: Jeff Green
Green came into the game looking aggressive. He called for the ball and directed the offense. He looked like an alpha dog — something we rarely see from him. Unfortunately, after a few missed layups, he lost his assertiveness. He passed up on isolation situations, and refused to bring the ball up the court. Then, late in the third quarter, he caught fire and scored three transition buckets, which did wonders for his confidence. He looked aggressive and involved in the offense for the remainder of the game. Green played 34 minutes and scored 19 points on 8-15 shooting. Tonight was the first night he shot over 50 percent from the field since Dec. 8.
Power Forward: Brandon Bass
Bass, quite simply, did not have a good game. He only attempted five field goals, and missed four of them. He only played 22 minutes, and was quiet in his time on the court. There really isn’t much to say about Bass' performance tonight; he seemed invisible out there. He ended with a game-worst -23 in the plus/minus category.
Center: Jared Sullinger
Sullinger’s shooting woes continue. Nothing would stay down for Sully tonight, not even point-blank attempts at the rim. He looked active on the offensive glass, which is encouraging, but he didn’t demonstrate the soft touch he has shown for the past season and a half. You can blame it on his hand injury if you’d like, but it doesn’t change the reality that he needs to rediscover his shooting touch if the Celtics are going to start winning games again. Tonight, Sully missed eight of his 11 attempts, but did finish with five offensive rebounds.
Although Kris Humphries had another fantastic game off the pine, Boston’s bench looked collectively bad. While the backups totaled 28 points, 14 of them came from Humphries. Kelly Olynyk, however, looked very energetic on the offensive glass and was the only Celtic to finish with a positive mark in the plus/minus section. While Olynyk and Humphries looked serviceable, overall it wasn’t a great night from the reserves.
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