Two teams coming off lackluster performances will look to regroup Tuesday night when the visiting Boston Celtics take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Oklahoma City wrapped up the 2022 portion of its schedule with a 115-96 home loss to Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve. The Thunder shot 38 percent from the field (35 of 92), including 12-for-36 on 3-point attempts. Philadelphia never trailed and outscored Oklahoma City 66-42 in the paint.
The Thunder trailed by 33 in the first half and never sliced their deficit below 14 points after that.
“You never want to be down 30, but if you are, you want to keep playing, and I thought we did that (against Philadelphia),” Oklahoma City head coach Mark Daigneault said. “Every guy, the effort in the second half was there. Nobody was letting go of the rope. It just obviously was too much to overcome because of the start. The lesson is that we don’t want to give that energy in a 30-point game. We want to give that energy at the beginning of the game and give ourselves a chance.”
Boston had its four-game winning streak end with Sunday night’s 123-111 loss at Denver. Jaylen Brown (30 points) and Jayson Tatum (25) did much of the scoring for Boston, which trailed by double digits for most of the contest.
The Celtics’ defense allowed the Nuggets to shoot 57 percent from the floor (45-for-79) and 56.7 percent from 3-point range (17-for-30).
“I don’t think anything went particularly wrong,” Brown said. “I think they just made a lot of shots. … Like, a lot of those are shots we wanted to live with. Bruce Brown, 4-for-6 from 3. Bones (Hyland), he hit some tough shots as well. … (Shooting) 17-for-30 from 3? That’s an anomaly. Give credit to them.”
Unlike Denver, Boston struggled from 3-point range in the loss. The Celtics missed 24 of their 33 attempts from distance. Boston shot 46 percent from the field overall (40 of 87).
“On the defensive end, you just have to stay poised and understand that they’re hitting those shots and just try to tread along three, four stops in a row to get some easy baskets,” Boston interim head coach Joe Mazzulla said. “It was one of those games where I don’t have a great feel on why it went the way it went, so I kind of want to study it more.”
The Celtics have failed to shoot better than 35 percent from 3-point range in six of their last eight contests and have shot below 30 percent from behind the arc in five of those games.
Oklahoma City entered its game against Philadelphia having scored at least 100 points in 26 consecutive games. Josh Giddey (20 points) was the Thunder’s leading scorer in the loss.
“We weren’t good to start the game on both ends of the floor,” Giddey said. “I think they got a lot of open looks and boards. They made shots, but our offense was too stagnant. We didn’t get enough looks. We spoke pregame about getting out and making them run. We didn’t do it early and we didn’t do it a lot of the game. So, a slow start and you can’t afford that against an experienced team like Philly.”
–Field Level Media