The bad news came earlier in the day: Kevin Durant was out with a sprained ankle. The immediate result: almost no one was hopeful about playing the Celtics at the TD Garden. They should have remembered the last time both KD and Jeff Green were sidelined, back in the spring of ’09: the rest of the guys weren’t going to let him down. “Undermanned, but not overwhelmed,” said radio guy Matt Pinto at the buzzer as the Thunder escaped with an 89-84 win over the Celtics.
Boston was a model of consistency through the first three quarters, scoring 23 points in each. Still, the only quarter they won was the fourth, 15-12, and Rajon Rondo had a rough night, with 14 points and a mere 7 assists. The Celtics shot 48.5 percent, five percent better than the Thunder, but they couldn’t buy a long ball: 1-8 from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, the Sole Standing Musketeer — that would be Russell Westbrook — dropped in 31 points, though his turnovers outnumbered his assists (7-6). As seemingly always for the Thunder, it was the stripe that saved them: 27-32 versus 17-27.
I’m still reeling a bit at this one. Winning one you’re expected to lose is always a thrill; the trick is to avoid losing one you’re expected to win. (Which would be tomorrow night in Milwaukee; the Deer are 5-7 but can still instill fear.)