Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Boston Celtics: Postgame Grades and Analysis

Michael Pina@@MichaelVPinaFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2012

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Boston Celtics: Postgame Grades and Analysis

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    The Boston Celtics have been searching for their dominant defensive identity all season long. On Friday, in a signature 108-100 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, they finally found it.

    Their rotations were crisp all game, forcing 16 turnovers from a team that can kill you every time down the floor. The Thunder were held to a 6-of-24 shooting night from behind the arc and finished the game on 46.8 percent shooting overall. 

    Also going Boston's way was Paul Pierce, who scored 27 points (including four three-pointers) and turned back the clock with a wide array of moves on offense that left Thunder defenders in his dust.

    Jason Terry pitched in with 16 loud points, including a three-pointer that barely beat the halftime buzzer and a game-clinching three-point dagger that all but sealed it in Boston's favor. 

    Jeff Green picked a great game to show that his preseason aggression wasn't a fluke, finishing with 17 points against his former team. 

    Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for 55 points, but it wasn't enough. 

    Read on for the postgame grades and analysis.

Point Guards: Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo

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    Rajon Rondo

    One of his most impressive games of the season, Rondo spent the evening setting up his teammates, placing them in situations where they could easily find success. He orchestrated mismatches and, in typical Rondo fashion, exploited them instead of looking for his own shot. 

    Boston's All-Star point guard finished the game with a game-high 16 assists, six points and eight rebounds. The tempo was his for the taking, and he did a splendid job capitalizing.

    Grade: A


    Russell Westbrook

    Westbrook had five assists to his name before scoring a single point. But once that first shot dropped, the buckets began to pour. Westbrook finished with 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

    The Celtics did a moderately good job of containing him when they could, but for the most part, Westbrook got to the basket whenever he felt his team needed him to. 

    Grade: A-

Shooting Guards: Thabo Sefolosha and Jason Terry

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    Jason Terry

    In his biggest performance as a Celtic, Jason Terry finished with 16 humongous points, including a three-pointer with 36 seconds left that gave Boston a 106-98 lead.

    Each attempt, Terry stepped into his shot with supreme confidence. This was the player Boston targeted over the summer.

    It appears the Jet has finally landed. 

    Grade: A


    Thabo Sefolosha

    A tough go for Sefolosha on Friday, as he was forced to defend a vintage Paul Pierce in several isolation sets.

    Very few defenders are able to contain Pierce on an island, especially when his three-pointer is dropping. On the other end, Sefolosha scored 10 points in 32 minutes. 

    Grade: C

Small Forwards: Paul Pierce and Kevin Durant

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    Paul Pierce

    Pierce made viewers think it was 2003. His athleticism in the open court and aggressiveness for 31 minutes was contagious.

    Pierce scored 27 points in myriad ways, and there wasn't much the Thunder could do to stop him. 

    Grade: A


    Kevin Durant

    The grade here is relative, as almost anyone else in the league who scores 29 points on 9-of-20 shooting would deserve an A++, but Durant was relatively sloppy with the ball, turning it over three times and committing three personal fouls.

    His shot was unstoppable, as it typically is, but as Durant evolves, there are other parts of his game he needs to clean up. 

    Grade: A-

Power Forwards: Brandon Bass and Serge Ibaka

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    Serge Ibaka

    Known for his defense and shot-blocking ability, Ibaka's jumper was what gave the Celtics nightmares. He finished 7-of-11 from the floor, scoring 17 points and grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds. 

    Ibaka was the only matchup problem Boston couldn't account for, and when he's hitting mid-range jumpers, the Thunder are almost impossible to beat. 

    Grade: B+


    Brandon Bass

    A terrible offensive night for Bass, who finished with six points on 12 shots.

    He was set up perfectly on several instances by Rondo, but aside from a nice bucket toward the end of the game, the ball just didn't seem to want to go in for one of Boston's surest shooters. 

    Grade: D

Centers: Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins

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    Kevin Garnett

    Garnett also turned the clock back, playing some of his best defense of the season and curtailing several drives by Westbrook and Durant before those two could do too much damage.

    Garnett finished with a game-high plus-18 on the night, once against showing his immense value. He also chipped in 18 big points (8-of-10 from the free-throw line).

    His jumper was dropping, which is crucial for how Boston's offense hums. 

    Grade: A


    Kendrick Perkins

    Perkins was Perkins on Friday. He finished with five points and nine rebounds in 32 minutes of action.

    On more than one occasion, he was actually seen running the break, making decent decisions in the open floor. Regardless, Scott Brooks does NOT want to see any more of that. 

    Grade: B-

Sixth Men: Kevin Martin and Jeff Green

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    Jeff Green

    His best game as a Celtic, Green looked excited to play against his former team, exhibiting a consistent aggressiveness we've yet to see since the preseason.

    He led the Celtics with eight points in the game's first 13 minutes and was hitting outside shots just the same as he was making strong drives to the basket. He finished with 17 points on 11 shots. 

    Grade: A+


    Kevin Martin

    To contrast Green's outburst, this was probably Martin's worst game in a Thunder uniform.

    The former Rocket finished 1-of-7 from the floor for just three points. Truly a rough go, as he couldn't find his own shot or make the game easier for guys around him. 

    Grade: F

Overall Bench

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    This was the outing from the bench both Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge have been waiting for.

    Jared Sullinger looked like a veteran, running the floor, taking charges, making hustle plays and being active on the offensive glass. He made some beautiful high-low passes from the elbow that resulted in easy baskets, and he looked like a true professional in 14 minutes of action. 

    Elsewhere, Courtney Lee had a layup in transition and scored a bucket off the dribble. Celtics fans are still waiting for him to break out and have his moment, but this was a step in the right direction. 

    Grade: A



    Martin was lifeless, Eric Maynor scored two points on five shots and Hasheem Thabeet was a minus-15 in just under seven minutes of play.

    Nick Collison was really the only Thunder player off the bench to have a positive impact on the game, but if that's your answer, there's trouble. 

    Grade: C