Dec 28, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens reacts during the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics @ Thunder: Game Preview

Boston Celtics 2013-14:  98.9 Offensive Rating(24th), 101.7 Defensive Rating(10th), -2.8 Net Rating(19th)

Oklahoma City Thunder 2013-14: 106.5 Offensive Rating(5th), 97.7 Defensive Rating(2nd), 8.8 Net Rating(2nd)

The Celtics start their harrowing  5 game west-coast road trip tonight with a matchup versus the 2nd best team in the league and the western conference leading Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Celtics come into tonight carrying a 3 game losing streak and have lost 7 out of their last ten games. They’re really struggling to string together consistent quarters and are dealing with nagging injuries. It’s been a rough stretch with their execution late in games and they keep falling down in the standings with Brooklyn chipping away just a game back in the division standings with them fighting for 2nd place in the consistently awful Atlantic division.

OKC on the other hand has had some bad luck with Russell Westbrook having another procedure on his knee, but they’ve  managed to hold steady and it’s of course because of Kevin Durant. Durant, who is coming off a NBA Season High 48 Points against the Timberwolves, is having possibly a career-best season. His scoring, rebounding, and passing per-36 minutes are all at career high marks. He’s posting both a career and NBA season leading PER mark of 28.8, and his individual offensive and defensive rating are both at career highs — 122 and 99, respectively. I don’t think you need me to tell you how good Durant is at this point in his career. If Boston wants to have any chance at beating OKC then it begins and ends with slowing down Durant. Serge Ibaka is is about as good as any center/power forward in the league but forcing players other than Durant to score is pivotal to even having a shot at beating them.

On the Boston side of things, they need to improve their execution. Mistakes, broken plays, and bad shots have all cost the Celtics their last few games and it’s become something of a problem. Jordan Crawford has had an awful past few games where he’s been consistently transforming into the old Crawford. By that, I mean that he’s taking awful shots early in the shot clock. The passing is still there but his efficiency is slowly deteriorating.

Another thing to watch going forward is how well Jared Sullinger is able to shoot the ball. He’s been dealing with a nagging injury on his left hand and has really struggled to shoot the ball as of late.

I’m not gonna say that I’m expecting the Celtics to lose but it doesn’t seem like they have much going for them in this matchup. You’ll see a lot of people say that this week where Boston plays 5 of the top 6 teams in the Western Conference.

Tip-off is at 7:00 P.M. on CSNNE/League Pass. Follow the site’s twitter account @HoudiniCeltics for in-game updates and analysis.

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