at Oklahoma City Thunder (11-2) at Boston Celtics (4-7) Monday, January 16 8:00 PM ET Game #12, Home Game #7 TV: TNT, NBAC Radio: WEEI, WWLS TD Garden Referees: Ron Garretson, Pat Fraher, Derek Richardson
The Celtics welcome Kendrick Perkins back to the Garden for the first time since that tragic day when he was traded to the Thunder. The Celtics fortunes have gone down hill considerably since the trade that sent Perk and Nate Robinson to the Thunder for Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green. In the meantime, the Thunder are on the top of the Western Conference and just 1/2 game behind the Bulls for the best record in the league.
Perk slimmed down and is healthy and playing very well for the Thunder while Krstic is playing in Europe and Jeff Green is out for the season after heart surgery. Even though Perk was crushed when he learned that he was traded, he couldn't have gone to a better team. The Thunder is a young team with great chemistry.
That brings us to this game. The Celtics have lost 4 in a row while the Thunder have won their last 6 including a blowout win over the NY Knicks in their last game. The Celtics need a win desperately but to get one in this game they are going to have to bring their A game. No slow starts, no let ups and no long droughts where they can't score.
I really hope Celtics fans give Perk the standing ovation he deserves in his return to the Garden. He loved it in Boston and gave it his all in every game he played for the Celtics and as Doc and KG have said in the past day or so, Perk is a Celtic for life, no matter what jersey he is wearing. Probable Starters Point Guard
Rajon Rondo 14.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 10.1 APG
Russell Westbrook 18.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 5.5 APG
Ray Allen 17.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.4 APG
Thabo Sefolosha 5.0 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.7 APG
Paul Pierce 14.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.9 APG
Kevin Durant 25.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 3.9 APG
Kevin Garnett 13.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.4 APG
Serge Ibaka 6.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 0.7 APG
Jermaine O'Neal 5.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.7 BPG,
Kendrick Perkins 5.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.2 BPG
Chris Wilcox (groin) out
Keyon Dooling (knee) probable
Eric Maynor (ACL) out
Ryan Reid (Nasal Surgery) out
Rajon Rondo vs Russell Westbrook
Rondo once again faces one of the top young PG's in the league. These two PG's were vying for a spot on Team USA before Rondo withdrew and Westbrook went on to win a gold medal with the team. Rondo always has a little extra motivation playing against the rising PG's in the league.
Paul Pierce vs Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant 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 who continues to struggle with his game.
Jermaine O'Neal vs Kendrick Perkins
Perk 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, they will be the enemy while he is on the court and expect him to be his snarly best in this game. Keys to the Game Limit Turnovers - The Celtics have been doing better in recent games to take care of the ball but then need to continue to concentrate on that area because they tend to get lax at times and the turnovers make games that should be easy much more difficult.
Rebound the Ball The Celtics have to crash the boards in order to prevent second chance points and fast break opportunities for the Thunder. The Celtics have been out rebounded by a margin of 188-150 in their last 4 games, all losses. Rebounding takes effort and desire and the Celtics haven't show a lot of either. They have to put out more effort on the boards if they want to win.
Defense - Defense has got to be the Celtics #1 priority. They have been playing decent defense in spurts but other times, they allow teams to get to the hoop and to get their shots off way too easily. They must recommit to team defense if they want to get back on the winning track.
Bench Play - The Thunder are a deep team and the Celtics must match their depth if they expect to win this game.
In his 23 NBA seasons, since 1987, Garretson officiated over 1,600 games. He also officiated the 1993 Europe Tour in London and the 1997 NBA All-Star Game. He is the son of former NBA referee Darell Garretson. Before joining the NBA as a referee, he spent two years officiating high school games in Arizona and two more in the Continental Basketball Association. The Celtics are 4-6 over their last 10 games with Garretson. The Thunder are 6-4 over their last 10 games with Garretson. This is the first game for both teams with Garretson this season. Garretson's home W/L record this season is 7-3.
Fraher's NBA career started 7 years ago and so far he has officiated over 300 regular season games. Before the NBA he officiated during 7 years in the CBA and four in the WNBA. Before that he worked 10 years as a high school official in Minnesota. The Celtics are 7-3 over their last 10 with Fraher. The Thunder are 6-4 over their last 10 games officiated by Fraher. His home W/L record this season is 7-1.
Richardson has 10 years experience in the NBA. He has 4 years collegiate officiating experience and he played basketball in college and high school. Richardson is known for being inconsistent with his calls, especially on charge/block calls. The Celtics are 7-3 over their last 10 games with Richardson. The Thunder are 4-6 over their last 10 games with Richardson as a ref. His home W/L record this season is 6-4.
Youth vs Age
The Thunder are a young team from top to bottom. The Celtics have youth on the bench, but their starters have been showing their age in recent games. The Celtics have to find the fountain of youth if they expect to stay with the young Thunder.