Ray Allen and the struggling Boston Celtics welcome perennial MVP candidate Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder to TD Garden for a nationally televised game on Monday.
Event: Oklahoma City Thunder (11-2) vs. Boston Celtics (4-7) - NBA Regular Season, Game 12.
Date/Time: Monday, January 16, 2012 - 8:00 p.m. EDT.
Location: TD Garden (Capacity: 18,624), Boston, MA.
Broadcast Info: Monday's game between the Celtics and Thunder will be televised nationally on TNT. In addition, the game will be aired on the WEEI Sports Radio Network, with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell calling all of the action.
Odds: Oklahoma City is a three-point favorite over Boston, and the over-under is set at 110.
Celtics Roster 2011-12: Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Marquis Daniels,Keyon Dooling, Kevin Garnett, JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Jermaine O'Neal, Sasha Pavlovic, Mickael Pietrus, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Greg Stiemsma,Chris Wilcox. Head Coach: Doc Rivers.
Thunder Roster 2011-12: Cole Aldrich, Nick Collison, Daequan Cook, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Lazar Haywood, Serge Ibaka, Royal Ivey, Reggie Jackson, Eric Maynor, Nazr Mohammed, Kendrick Perkins, Ryan Reid, Thabo Sefolosha, Russell Westbrook. Head Coach: Scott Brooks.
Celtics And Thunder In 2011: The Celtics and Thunder will play twice this season and met twice last season, with each team winning once. Kevin Durant scored 34 points to lead the Thunder to a 92-83 win in the first meeting last season on Nov. 7 but the Celtics overcame a 31-point performance from Russell Westbrook to win 89-84 on Nov. 19.
Last Time Out: Boston is riding a four-game losing streak and is coming off a 97-83 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce each scored 21 points and Jermaine O'Neal collected 12 rebounds for Boston in the loss. Rajon Rondo had nine assists in defeat for Boston, which was held to 38.6 percent shooting from the field.
Oklahoma City defeated the New York Knicks, 104-92, in its last game on Saturday. Kevin Durant led his team with 28 points and Russell Westbrook had 21 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Thunder, which shot 47.9 percent in the win. James Harden also had a solid game, scoring 24 points off the bench.
Statistics Central: Ray Allen is the Celtics' leading scorer, averaging 17.5 points. Rajon Rondo leads the team in assists per game (10.1) and steals (1.9). Kevin Garnett averages 7.1 rebounds and Greg Stiemsma averages 1.8 blocks. Boston ranks 26th in the NBA in points for (89.9 PPG) and is 29th in rebounding (37.7 RPG), ninth in assists (22.0 APG) and eighth in points allowed (92.1 PPG).
Kevin Durant leads Oklahoma City in scoring, averaging 25.8 points, and also leads the team in rebounding with 6.8 rebounds. Russell Westbrook averages 5.5 assists and 1.7 steals and Serge Ibaka averages 2.2 blocks. The Thunder rank fifth in the league in scoring (100.3 PPG), 15th in rebounding (42.0 RPG), 22nd in assists (19.0 APG) and is 20th in the league in points allowed (95.6 PPG).
Storyline: Plenty of stories in this game on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, including the return of Kendrick Perkins to TD Garden. Perkins played the first seven and a half seasons of his career with the Celtics before team president Danny Ainge traded Perkins, the starting center on the 2008 championship team, and Nate Robinson to the Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. At the time, Perkins was distraught and is anxious about his return home on Monday.
Of course, you can't forget about Kevin Durant in this game. Any time Durant comes to town, it's a story in itself. Durant is an NBA scoring champion and is well on his way to a Hall of Fame career, meaning tough times for opposing teams. Durant is aided by his sidekick, Russell Westbrook, who is an All-Star in his own right and a difficult guard to handle.
Reggie Jackson also return to the area, as the former Boston College standout was the first-round pick of the Thunder in the 2011 NBA Draft. Jackson won't start and may not see a lot of playing time, but it will be good to see him in an NBA uniform after all of his hard work and dedication in Chestnut Hill.
As for the Celtics, they are in desperate need of a win. Losers of their last four games, fans are wondering if this is the end of the Big Four era. However, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo think otherwise. The C's will do everything they can to get back on track, but the reality is that their time may have passed.
Players To Watch: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are the two best players on the floor for the Thunder, and everything points to both having big games against a weak Celtics team. Also, Kendrick Perkins will be determined to put on a show in his return to Boston. For the Celtics, watch for the Big Four to have a big game if the Celtics play well.
Prediction: One can't run from reality forever. In truth, it looks like the Celtics' time is up, at least with this current group of future Hall of Famers. The league now belongs to the young teams, like the Thunder. Oklahoma City is simply too talented for Boston to handle, and they should prove it on Monday night. Final Score: Thunder 104, Celtics 86.