The national TV audience, presumably, got what it was looking for: a ferocious battle between two near-elite teams. (They weren’t actually watching, of course; the TV was on, but they were busy with preparations for that other sportsball thing later today.) The Celtics, one might reasonably conclude, are a couple of steps closer to the Parthenon than are the Thunder; as good as the OKC defense can be, they were not quite good enough to thwart the Boston offense, which shot more than 50 percent for most of those 48 minutes, finishing with a strong 59 percent. And while, as expected, Kyrie Irving led the Celts with 30, eight of the Boston nine finished in double figures: only Gordon Hayward missed. So Boston gets its fourth consecutive win over the Thunder, 134-129, a record going back two seasons.
The one obvious Boston advantage: ball movement. The Celtics passed around 36 assists, eleven up on the Thunder, including nine from Al Horford in the middle, which at least partially explains how Paul George, with a game-high 37 points, could end up -6 on the dreaded plus/minus scale. (Russell Westbrook, with a 22-12-16 triple-double, was -5.) Interestingly, all the Thunder reserves were zero or higher, with Dennis Schröder (16 point) a +8 for the day.
Aside from Kyrie, Boston scoring punch came largely from two guys named Marcus: Morris, with 19 points, and Smart, with 18. And I do wish the Celtic rotation had some space for Guerschon Yabusele, just so I could hear the announcers fumbling with the name. (Yabusele, a power forward from deepest France known familiarly as the Dancing Bear, was drafted by the Celtics in 2016.)
I am not one to sneer at a 2-1 road trip, but going home looks harder to quantify, with a Tuesday rematch against the Magic, and a Thursday visit from the Memphis Grizzlies, whom we haven’t seen all year.