Is Avery Bradley the Key to the Game? Celtics-Thunder Preview

In the Celtics (15-16) last game before the All-Star Break they face off against the Oklahoma City Thunder (25-7) and former teammate Kendrick Perkins. Rajon Rondo will not be able to play against his good friend as he will be serving the second game of his two game suspension for throwing the basketball at the referee. The two teams are heading in different directions as the Celtics have lost 6 of their last 7 and their last 4 in a row. The Thunder have won their last three games and are 9-3 in the month of February. The Celtics are also 4-8 on the road while the Thunder are 13-1 at home.

The Celtics will hopefully get Kevin Garnett back as he has missed the last two games due to a family matter. The Celtics are extremely weak at the power forward position if he doesn’t play as Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Wilcox are both day to day from injuries against the Mavs and Brandon Bass is out until after All Star break. The Celtics will have to rely heavily on Jajuan Johnson and Greg Stiemsma as they are the only two power forwards or centers on the roster.

The Thunder are just two games removed from what I can remember as one of the most ridiculous statlines a trio of NBA players has ever produced

Player Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals
Kevin Durant 51 8 3 0 4
Russell Westbrook 40 4 9 1 0
Serge Ibaka 14 15 0 11 1

These three bring back memories of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman. While they have accomplished nothing yet, they are look very tough to beat this year and will pose a big problem for the Celtics

Keys to the Game

Get out and Run

The Celtics may or may not have any one of the three big man listed day to day. But if they do, and more importantly if they don’t, they need to get into the open floor and get some easy baskets. The team is struggling in its half court sets and getting easy baskets allows the defense to set up and do its job.

Get some Penetration

Other than Pierce and Ray last game the Celtics were settling for a lot of jumpers. The offense was stagnant and the ball was not moving crisply. It’s tough to get open shots when your not making the defense work.

Cut down on Turnovers

Paul has been trying to take over the game and its nice to see, but his 10 turnovers in the past two games is hard to swallow. The Celtics have to take care of the ball and it starts with The Truth. The Celtics are too good of a defensive team to be giving up so many easy buckets off of turnovers.

Avery Bradley

Finally, my man Avery came out strong in the first quarter last night, looking for his shot and actually hitting it. If he can show he has a consistent jumper, it will open up the floor for the rest of the Celtics shooters and allow him to penetrate and create. No one is really concerned by his defense, we all know Avery D’s up!

New Season, New Rules

Three things as a result of the shortened NBA season:

1. John Wall will have his coming out party. Due the fact that this kid has more athleticism than just about anyone who has entered the league in the last decade – besides Yoa Ming of course – the shortened season will help him come out of the gates hot. Building off of his incredible second half performance last year, 17+ points and 8+ assists per game( look it up), this guy is going to come out of the gates like Seabiscuit.

2. Oklahoma City will cruise. Okay, so everyone is talking about how the shortened season will benefit the vets because they will have more poise and know how to manage the ups and downs better. With that being said, I am very excited to see how the San Antonio Spurs – who have a mean age of 46 – are going to hold up with back-to-back-to-back games. I love the Spurs, don’t get me wrong, but Oke City is young, fast, and healthy. These guys have the mojo and the scorers to flat out beat teams with their pace.

3. The Miami Heat will win the NBA Title. I mean, I know how much everyone out here loves Lebron… why wouldn’t you? This guy knows how to make a classy exit, perform in the 4th quarter and announce the unprecedented 8-peat – what’s not to like? Son of a bitch. Okay seriously now, I hate to announce it here on BSB, but I can’t get away from it. The shortened season, coupled with the fact that the Heat gelled late last year is a recipe for success. The 66 games will give guys like Dwayne Wade, who still have some left in the tank, the ability to push themselves more down the stretch. Athleticism and the ability to stay injury free will be critical this season.

It may be “un-BSB” of me to post this, but I’m a Pacer fan (at least we have Larry Bird), so I really have no hope whatsoever.