Celtics 101, Thunder 94: This is starting to get interesting

Celtics 101, Thunder 94: This is starting to get interesting

The Celtics have the best record in the NBA.

OK, we’re just a few weeks into the season. But the notion that Brad Stevens’ club could make such a claim — and do so after beating mighty Oklahoma City, 101-94, in its own building — would have seemed inconceivable the moment Gordon Hayward was being wheeled off the floor in Cleveland. That, however, is exactly where they find themselves after the Celts’ seventh win in a row. (For a complete recap of the Celtics’ win, click here.)

To top things off, all things considered, this was the best of all the Celtics’ wins this season.

The other victories offered promise, but nothing like this one. This was against a team that is considered a legitimate threat to Golden State in the mighty Western Conference. A club that carried the reigning NBA MVP, who was joined this season by Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. And, for one half, it appeared that Billy Donovan’s team was, indeed, in a different class from the up-and-comers from Boston, carrying a 55-37 lead into halftime.

But some of the reasons we can start buying into these Celtics were on full display in the second half.

The league’s best defense started to put the clamps on the Westbrook/George/Anthony triumvirate. Jaylen Brown would finish with 11 rebounds, helping the Celtics finish yet another game with the rebounding edge. And subtle matchups involving Marcus Morris (who was a plus-11 in his first game of the season), Terry Rozier and rookie Semi Ojeleye (15 minutes) helped the visitors get back into the game, holding Oklahoma City to just 16 third-quarter points.

Yet, the biggest dose of optimism might be coming from something that has carried over from last season — resilience. 

Last year, much of the C’s ability to get over the hump was due to Isaiah Thomas’ fourth-quarter heroics. This time? Same story, but different set of stars.

After scoring just three points in the first half (on 1-for-10 shooting), Irving took over when it counted the most. When it was all said and done he would finish with 25 points, morphing from facilitator to game-ender in the final five minutes.

The other piece of the puzzle in helping providing the punctuation was Al Horford, whose ability to step out from beyond the three-point stripe continues to be striking. This time the forward went 4-for-4 from three-point land, two of them coming in the final five minutes. It was also his 19-foot jumper that pretty much put the game out of reach with 41 seconds let, giving the Celtics a six-point lead.

Of course, what makes the possibility that this run against these type of teams might continue is the continued emergence of rookie Jayson Tatum (13 points, 6 rebounds) and Brown (10 points). 

The Celtics have done this in different ways against all different kind of teams. This time, it was in a very convincing way against what should also be a very good team.

“Our system works,” Irving told reporters. “It has yet to fail us.”



Full article @ Celtics 101, Thunder 94: This is starting to get interesting

Source: GreenStreet Blog

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