Well, the master picker strikes again. His 95-81 prediction was only off by a total of 3 points. Again, why go anywhere else?
So, The Thunder played valiantly tonight. And, what's better, they didn't look like the typical "young team" at all. Let me elaborate.
The first quarter was epic. We lead the Celtics almost all the way through, and even though they didn't look stunned, the fans sure were happy. The 2nd and 3rd quarter saw our lead slowly diminish into a 12-17 point deficit. But, unlike most young teams, who completely give up in the 4th, we stayed strong. In fact, a couple more defensive stops, and the game might've been ours.
But when it's all said and done, the Celtics just had better ball movement. They usually did one of two things: 1. Kick it out to Ray Allen/any other sharpshooter. 2. Make a gaping hole in the centre of the lane and watch the generally quicker Celtics make an easy layup.
On top of that, our big men were really mismatched. Joe Smith is known for his hustle, rebounding, and offense, but his defense is slightly below par. And he was getting burned by Kevin Garnett all night. Nick Collison and Chris Wilcox didn't far much better. Johan Petro tried his best, but he was getting scored on down low even by Kendrick Perkins. If the Thunder tried to double team, the other team would just pass it to the other big man for an easy two. Not a good picture.
Paul Pierce is satisfied because nobody takes pictures of any Celtic but him Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen.All of that being said, tonight really was an off night for the Celtics. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce both shot terribly, and Kevin Garnett just didn't look like the dominating force he usually is. Rajon Rondo did what he uaually does and was extremely efficent with 100% field goals and 11 assists, but tonights Thunder Plunderer has to go to Leon Powe. With 11 Points, 3-6 Shooting, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and a +18 +/- ratio in 18 minutes, he really helped out his team tonight. He was a big reason that the Celtics took a commanding lead in the 3rd, and it was clear he was giving it his all while everybody else looked lackluster or disinterested.
Earl Watson the Thunder Wonder Award tonight. This is the first time this season he's really outperformed Russell Westbrook, so he should be proud.
The Thunder Down Under award then, by logic, goes to either Wilcox (5 Points, 2-5 Shooting, 8 Rebounds) or Smith (9 Points, 4-9 Shooting, 5 Rebounds). Trying to decide is pretty much splitting hairs. It's all a matter of if rebounds or points matter more. The thing is, I think that Joe Smith came through in more critical times. He had some pretty fancy shots in the 4th, and one of his missed shots was a halftime lob. Still, he forced himself into bad one-on-one situations, and, again, got torched defensively by Garnett. But, in the end, Wilcox missed a freethrow, Smith got the same amount of offensive rebounds, and Wilcox was torched equally as bad defensively. So, the Thunder Down Under Award goes to Joe Smith.
Now, the Thunder Blunder. For me, it's between Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison. Now, you may be saying "But Russell Westbrook got 13 points!" Well, 6 of those were meaningless. He hit 2 meaningless, undefended 3s at the end of the game. Now, his stats, instead of being 13 Points, 4-13 Shooting, 5 Rebounds, 1 Assist, and 1 Steal, it's 7 Points, 2-11 shooting, 5 Rebounds, 1 Assist, and 1 Steal. A whole lot less impressive, huh? Still, his lack of assists are made up by his rebounds, which are almost as many as Nick Collison had (6). On top of that, Nick Collison played 5 more minutes, and was only 1-6 of the floor for 2 points. While 2 blocked shots are impressive, they're not enough to keep Nick Collison away from tonight's Thunder Blunder.
Next Game: Friday at the Utah Jazz
Lets prepare for another beatdown.