January 24, 2014 at 2:04 PM #53126
Qbin Missile CrisisKeymaster
Rising to the top the Western Conference on a five-game winning streak, Oklahoma City will set its sights on six in a row when they aim to take advantage of the Boston Celtics who are 3-15 against Western opponents.
Date/Time: 7:30 PM ET, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014
Venue: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Broadcast: FSN Oklahoma, CSN New England
Spread: +7 Boston
Meanwhile, the Thunder (33-10) are 11-2 against Eastern Conference teams and the injury-depleted Boston Celtics couldn’t be any bigger of a gift, especially since Oklahoma is playing their seventh game in 10 days.
OKC arrives in Beantown on Friday fresh off a 111-105 win at San Antonio on Wednesday.
NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant has continued his hot streak, pouring in 36 points in Texas, and is averaging 40.4 over the last five games. He is also shooting an amazing 52.8 percent, including 41.3 from 3-point range over the past month.
But Durant can’t take all of the credit for the Thunder’s outstanding season, as Serge Ibaka is averaging 17.2 points over the last five games, and Reggie Jackson scored 27 against Boston earlier this month.
As a unit, OKC is fourth in the league in scoring and second in rebounding — even without second-leading scorer Russell Westbrook — who has been sidelined for almost a month following arthroscopic knee surgery.
All of that spells trouble for the Celtics who are 2-12 over their last 14 contest, and are expected to once again be without second-leading scorer Avery Bradley due to an ankle injury.
Boston (14-29) has struggled all season, but did snatch an overtime victory at Washington on Wednesday without Bradley and Rajon Rondo.
Rondo however, is expected back in the lineup against the Thunder, joining leading scorer Jeff Green, who despite averaging s 16.2 points per game, scored a whopping 39 in the Celts victory over the Wizards.
He will be expected to carry the Celtics without Bradley against his former team, but will get some much-needed help by way of injured guard Jerryd Bayless, who is expected to be back in the lineup after collecting 15 points and 13 assists while shooting 7-of-27 from the field over three games since returning from knee surgery.
Jared Sullinger has also stepped up, and recorded 14.1 points and 11 rebounds over the last eight, with five of his 12 double-doubles coming in that span.
Matt’s Prediction: Durant has scored at least 30 points in nine straight outings since registering 21 in the 119-96 victory over Boston on Jan. 5, at home.
The Thunder are hot and I expect them to make quick work of Boston in this one.
Thunder 109, Celtics 91
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