Injury problems have plagued this NBA matchup, but the 43-29 Oklahoma City Thunder and 47-23 Boston Celtics should still play a very entertaining game in Boston today (8 p.m. ET Tuesday on TNT).
Oklahoma City is on a six-game winning streak, solidifying its position as the Western Conference’s fourth seed. While the season-ending injury to Andre Roberson is still hurting the defense, OKC’s offense is soaring right now behind the dominant play of reigning MVP Russell Westbrook.
Boston has been rocked by injuries recently. Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis are all out of this clash, leaving an unspectacular roster behind. The Celtics have lost three of their last four games.
Recent trends suggest an OKC win, but we all know that a variety of factors can cause unexpected results in a given game. Let’s preview those factors, give our OKC vs Boston Celtics predictions and take an educated guess at what your picks with the US bookmakers should be for the contest.
Can Celtics Make Russell Westbrook a Jump Shooter?
Westbrook is on an offensive tear right now. Since March started, he is averaging 28.3 points and 9.8 assists per game with a 53.7 field-goal percentage.
That field-goal percentage is key. Westbrook has refused to settle for outside shots this month, and his three-point attempts are way down at 2.1 per game. As a result, he is putting a whole bunch of pressure on the rim and confounding opponents’ defenses in the process.
OKC is just 10-16 when Westbrook takes five or more threes this season. When he takes four or fewer from that distance, the Thunder are 33-13.
Boston’s priority should be playing just a step off Westbrook so the team doesn’t get burned by his quickness. In all likelihood, the Celtics’ Terry Rozier will be the one tasked with checking Westbrook for the majority of the game.
Will Al Horford’s Versatile Game or Steven Adams’ Inside Strength Win Out?
The Celtics’ Horford and the Thunder’s Adams are very similar players in quality and impact. However, the two centers make their impacts in vastly different ways.
Horford is a finesse big man who can shoot threes, defend pretty much anyone capably and make plays for others with his quickness and passing ability. Adams uses his muscular frame and excellent hands to pound the offensive boards and throw down thunderous slams when set up by teammates.
These two players will likely guard each other at least some of the time. It will be interesting to see which guy imposes his will on the other. There’s a definite chance one or both of them get each other into foul trouble because of their physical advantages on each other (Horford’s quickness and Adams’ size and strength).
What Kind of Game Will Marcus Morris Have?
Morris is a decent player. However, he is not consistently decent as his impact varies wildly from game to game. Sometimes, he looks like a star on both ends of the floor. Other times, he sabotages his squad with poor shot selection and lazy defense.
For example, Morris dropped 31 points on 11-of-22 shooting against the Wizards a week ago. In the next game against the lowly Magic, he scored just nine points on 4-of-15 shooting.
Morris needs to be locked into this game for the Celtics to win. OKC has wings like Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Jerami Grant that are capable of going off offensively with their skill or effort.
Our Preview’s OKC at Boston Celtics Betting Picks & Predictions
The Thunder are really hitting their stride right now and have the major talent advantage in this contest. They are coming off a win against the Raptors, who are much better than the Celtics right now. So, as for our preview’s Thunder vs Celtic predictions and betting picks, we think that the road team will prevail.
- The sportsbooks have not posted odds at the time of writing, due to perceived doubts about the line-ups. We expect Thunder to be around 4 or 5-point favorites for this. This preview’s advice at that level would be to bet on OKC -5pts on the spread with one of the top betting firms such as Bovada, 5Dimes or Bookmaker.
- So we turn our attention to the likely points total to be scored. The Celtics have their two most important perimeter defenders out in Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown. Ever since Andre Roberson went out, the Thunder have been a super offensive-oriented team. While Kyrie Irving’s absence for the Celtics does make their scoring potential lower, Terry Rozier has produced very well as his replacement. We feel the bookies may underestimate the points total, because of the injury situation, and it is likely the over will represent the best option for a wager.