Originally written on Celtics Green ...a boston celtics blog.  |  Last updated 11/18/14
   at  Boston Celtics (34-27)  at  Oklahoma City Thunder (46-16) Sunday, March 10, 20131:00 PM ET Game #62, Road Game #31TV:  ABC, CHCH TVRadio:  WEEI, WWLS, ESPNRChesapeake Energy Arena Jeff Green makes his return to OKC for the first time since he was traded for Kendrick Perkins.  Just as Perk was a fan favorite in Boston, Jeff Green was a fan favorite in OKC and I expect him to get a warm welcome from the fans there.  Green has been a big part of Boston's resurgence since Rondo went down and is averaging 14.7 points on 50.5 percent shooting during the 14-4 stretch since Rondo's injury.  This is the second and final time the Celtics will face the Thunder in the regular season.   They won the first meeting 108-100 in Boston before Rondo and Sully went down.   In that game, Pierce had 27 points and Green added 17 in his first-ever game against his former team.  Every game from here on in could change the playoff seedings in both conferences.    The Thunder are in 2nd place in the West, 1.5 games behind the Spurs and 3 games in front of the Clippers, who are in 3rd.  The Celtics have moved up to 6th in the East, half a game behind the Bulls and 1.5 games behind the Nets.  They are tied with the Hawks but since they lead the series, they get the 6th seed while Atlanta has slipped to the 7th seed.   The Celtics are 3 games ahead of the Bucks, who are in the 8th spot.  Both teams are 7-3 in their last 10 games.  Both bring win streaks into this game with the Celtics win streak at 5 while the Thunder have won 4 in a row.   Chesapeake Energy Arena is one of the toughest places to play.  Their crowd is always raucous and their team feeds off of their energy.  Probable Starters Point Guard   vs  Avery Bradley  vs  Russell Westbrook  Shooting Guard   vs  Courtney Lee  vs  Thabo Sefolosha   Small Forward   vs  Paul Pierce  vs  Kevin Durant  Power Forward   vs  Brandon Bass  vs  Serge Ibaka  Center  vs  Kevin Garnett  vs  Kendrick Perkins Celtics ReservesJeff GreenJason TerryJordan Crawford Chris WilcoxTerrence Williams DJ White Shavlik Randolph InjuredRajon Rondo (knee) out Jared Sullinger (back)  out  Red ClawsFab MeloThunder ReservesNick CollisonReggie JacksonPerry Jones Jeremy Lamb Kevin MartinDerek Fisher Hasheem ThabeetRonnie Brewer Injured NoneTulsa 66ersDaniel OrtonDeAndre Liggins Key Matchups   vs  Avery Bradley vs Russell Westbrook Avery will have perhaps his biggest challenge yet as he gets the job of trying to slow down Russell Westbrook.  Russ has been playing very well and when he's on his game, it's very tough to stop him as he is a threat to hit the outside shot as well as to make a strong drive to the hoop.    vs  Paul Pierce vs Kevin Durant  The only thing tougher than trying to stop Russell Westbrook will be trying to stop Kevin Durant.   KD is making a case for being the best player in the NBA and  Pierce will have his hands full trying to guard him.    Durant is also a good defender so this may be a tough game for Pierce all the way around.   Jeff Green may be the best option to try to slow down his former teammate.  Honorable Mention Kevin Garnett  vs Kendrick PerkinsPerk will always be a Celtic.  But he's also one of the more competitive players in the league.  As much as he loves his former teammates, and Kevin Garnett in particular, they will be the enemy while he is on the court and expect him to be his snarly best in this game.  Along with KG vs Perk, Brandon Bass will have his hands full trying to stay with Serge Ibaka.  Keys to the GameDefense -  Defense has got to be the Celtics #1 priority.   The Thunder are 2nd in the league in 3 point percentage at 39.2%. They are 3rd in FG% at 48.4%.   And, they top the league in points scored per game at 107.  The Celtics must defend the 3 point line as well as keep them out of the paint where they also do a lot of damage.   The "manwich" defense might be good to use against this team for stretches.  Rebound the Ball    The Celtics have to crash the boards in order to prevent second chance points and fast break opportunities for the Thunder.  When they get a defensive rebound, they are off to the races and will make you pay with a fast break basket.   With their size, they will also make you pay with put backs and second chance baskets if you give them offensive rebounds.   If you give the Thunder a second chance, they don't often miss twice.   The Celtics have to put out more effort on the boards as a team if they want to win.  Bench Play -  The Celtics bench is going to be key in this game.  They have been playing very well, outscoring the Hawks 46-8, the Pacers 29-16, and the Sixers 41-22.  If the Thunder have any flaws at all, it is their bench scoring.  Needless to say, they lose a lot when their starters go to the bench.  Defense on Kevin Martin, the Thunder's main weapon off the bench, will be crucial.  Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be more aggressive.  They have to go to the hoop and not settle for jumpers.  They need to get to the basket more and be more aggressive on defense to keep their opponents from scoring in the paint.  They can't be passive and expect to win the game, especially against an aggressive team like the Thunder.  Players to WatchKendrick Perkins Simply because I still love Perk.  Jeff GreenThis is Jeff's first time facing his former team.  Sometimes players try too hard against their old team and it backfires and sometimes they shine, wanting to show what they are missing by trading them.  Hopefully, for Jeff it will be the latter.  I expect him to get a warm welcome from the fans but after that, it's business.   X-FactorOn the Road AgainThe Celtics haven't played all that well on the road, although they've played better there recently, winning both games on their last mini road trip and winning 2 out of 5 on their West Coast trip.  They need to come out focused and not allow the crowd (or the refs) to take them out of their game.    [Discuss on CG Forums!]
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