Seriously, how did you expect this to play out? A guy who scored four points in his last three games with Dallas before getting traded to Boston last December is now, arguably, the most important player on the Celtics. Yeah, Isaiah Thomas can score and all, that’s awesome, but this is a defense first team, and both with his defense and his ability to shoot threes, Jae Crowder is absolutely indispensable to this team. The Celtics were also without Jonas Jerebko, the Swedish salary-match filler from another one of last year’s trades and a key piece of the Celtics’ bench rotation. Olynyk was back, but he was a non-factor.
Kevin Durant, who was treated like an honorary Celtic during warmups, introductions and much of the first quarter combined with Russell Westbrook to score all the points in the first quarter. Well, almost all. At one point, they had 21 of 28 points.
Oklahoma City is a very tall team, but not one noted for their defense. Thus they shot at a blistering 61% clip but ended the quarter only two possessions ahead of the short-handed and generally short Celtics, 35 to 30.
The first part of the second quarter was promising; the Celtics didn’t tie the game, but they kept it close–bouncing between 3 and 5 points down. However, once Billy Donovan replaced Kyle Singler with Randy Foye, the Thunder went on a run and were back up 12 with 7 minutes to go. About the only thing going in Boston’s favor at that point was the ease with which nearly every player was able to get into the paint. The Thunder apparently believe in the ‘watch and wait’ school of post defense.
A Westbrook three gave the Thunder a 14 point lead, which Boston trimmed to seven in less than a minute and a half, by virtue of three straight baskets. OKC tacked four points on to that by the end of the quarter and went in to halftime up 11, 66-55.
Oklahoma City came out for the third period a couple minutes before the Celtics. A handful of guys in Celtics jerseys who bore a faint resemblance to the Boston starting five played about three minutes, scored two points, and committed four fouls, while allowing the Thunder to score eleven before Stevens called a timeout with the C’s suddenly in a 20 point hole.
Boston subsequently scored seven straight in just over a minute, showing what this team is capable of when it’s hitting on all cylinders. That team then returned to the locker room and the Celtics-stand-ins allowed OKC to score 42 points in the third quarter.
An eleven point halftime deficit was a 27 point deficit at the end of the third, and Oklahoma City crossed the 100 point mark with well over two minutes to go on a Kevin Durant three point play.
Fans serenaded Durant with at least one “Come to Boston” chant during a pair of free throws midway through the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was a sort of science experiment with Boston’s younger players that went pretty well, considering that OKC still had honest-to-goodness rotation players on the court. I’ll admit that Hunter three brought a smile to my face. However, it wasn’t nearly enough, and the Celtics, once riding a 14 game home winning streak ended up in bizarro-Gino world, losing by 21 points, 130 to 109.
Isaiah Thomas had a good game.
The third quarter game film has already been sealed in a lead lined cask and placed with the rest of the nuclear waste at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.
IT making it look easy: pic.twitter.com/keZltRJZoV
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 17, 2016
Marcus Smart knows how to read a defense: pic.twitter.com/vQ2uc8jXFc
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 16, 2016
The very large “not Isaiah Thomas” section of the Celtics lineup was 2-15 from three point land.
James Young ended the game with three missed shots, three fouls and two turnovers. It was not his finest moment in green.