It began like most nights in the ‘Peake, with Oklahoma City reasonably, if not comfortably, in control. Things began to shift late in the third quarter, when the Celtics switched to a 2-3 zone, catching the Thunder off guard. In fact, OKC was off several things thereafter: what had been an 11-point lead shrank to two at the end of the third, and Boston totally took it over after that, taking a 13-point lead within five and a half minutes. Stunned, the Thunder never completely recovered. It may be simply that the Celtics were getting better looks, but as radio guy Matt Pinto observed, the Celtics up to that point “just wanted it more.” Thunder velleity would not, alas, change the path of the ball, and OKC made only two of its last 17 shots from the floor, giving the Celtics a surprisingly easy 100-85 victory, and Russell Westbrook, disgusted at being pulled for garbage time, managed to pick up a technical foul between the court and the bench.
Boston’s superiority in the standard statistical categories was startling: 46-34 rebounding, 48-36 percent shooting, 25-18 assists. (Turnovers, curiously, were tied at 18.) But games are more than numbers, and the Celtics’ twin guard attack, Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart, knocked down 46 points between them. Or you could look at the Thunder numbers and see Westbrook with a game-high 27, though it took him 20 shots to get there, and Serge Ibaka as the only other OKC player in double figures, and you might ask where the running game was. Three — count ’em, three — fast-break points.
If you ask me, the Thunder was thinking ahead to tomorrow night in Memphis; the Grizzlies, even under .500 so far, can still wear you down. And presented with this evidence that the mighty Thunder can be had by a small team with less-than-tremendous speed, the Griz, a bigger team with a few guys who move like crazy, will be very much heartened. Not what I’d call a good sign.