Celtics-Thunder takeaways: Porzingis dominates as C’s clinch NBA’s best record


Celtics-Thunder takeaways: Porzingis dominates as C’s clinch NBA’s best record originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Wednesday night at TD Garden, the Boston Celtics clinched the No. 1 overall seed in the NBA playoffs with a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The C’s took care of business against a short-handed Thunder squad that played without star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (quad) and talented young wing Jalen Williams (ankle). Boston played at full strength and it showed in the final score, 135-100. It closed out an otherwise tightly contested matchup with a 42-17 fourth quarter.

With this victory, the Celtics are now 11-0 at home since Feb. 4. They’re a league-best 60-16 on the season.

Kristaps Porzingis and Jayson Tatum led the way for the C’s with 27 and 24 points, respectively. Jaylen Brown, back in the lineup after missing Monday’s win with a hand injury, dropped 15 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter.

Josh Giddey (17 points) and Luguentz Dort (15 points) led the Thunder in the scoring column.

The Celtics will host the Sacramento Kings (44-31) on Friday night. First, here are three takeaways from Wednesday’s win.

OKC still has no answer for Kristaps Porzingis

The last time these two powerhouses met on Jan. 2, Porzingis dropped a team-high 34 points on 12-of-18 shooting in a losing effort. Three months later, the Thunder still lack a solution for the Celtics big man.

Porzingis picked up where he left off against OKC with 17 points and nine rebounds in the first half. “The Unicorn” made seven of his 10 shots in the first two frames, including all three of his 3-pointers.

Porzingis dominated the Thunder on both ends of the floor. In addition to his 27 total points on 11-of-14 shooting, he racked up 12 boards while protecting the rim with five blocks.

According to Celtics stats guru Dick Lipe, Porzingis is only the second Celtic ever to have at least 27 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks, and four assists in a game since the block stat became official in 1974. Robert Parish is the only other player in franchise history to accomplish the feat, and he did so three times.

Porzingis, acquired from the Washington Wizards last summer, has been the X factor for Boston this season. If the Celtics bring home Banner 18 in June, he’ll be among the biggest reasons why.

Second unit steps up

Porzingis and Tatum didn’t get much help in the scoring department from their fellow starters through the first three quarters, forcing the bench unit to pick up the slack. It did exactly that.

Al Horford played a starring role in the win with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting (2-4 3-PT). The veteran big man added four rebounds, two assists, and a block in 25 minutes.

Horford and Porzingis combined to shoot 18-for-24 (75 percent) from the floor. The rest of the team shot 32-for-68 (47 percent), and that number was much lower heading into the explosive fourth quarter.

Payton Pritchard contributed 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting and made an even bigger impact as a playmaker. He dished eight assists to go with four rebounds and two steals. He and Horford were a +23 and +32, respectively.

Sam Hauser went 2-of-5 from deep and made a pair of shots late in the game to finish with 10 points in 22 minutes.

The Celtics bench was scrutinized earlier in the campaign, but it’s safe to say it’s no longer considered a weakness. Horford, Pritchard, and Hauser headline a group that makes Boston one of the deeper teams in the league heading into the playoffs.

Thunder shut down from deep

Oklahoma City entered Wednesday’s matchup shooting an NBA-best 39 percent from beyond the arc, just above the No. 2 Celtics (38.9 percent).

The C’s overtook the Thunder for the top spot with a stifling defensive performance on the perimeter. They limited OKC to an uncharacteristic 5-of-24 (20.8 percent) from deep, its worst 3-point shooting performance since it shot 17.2 percent against Golden State on Dec. 8.

Of course, having Gilgeous-Alexander probably would have helped the Thunder in that department, but the Celtics’ defensive performance was impressive nonetheless. Meanwhile, they were 17-of-40 (42.5 percent) from deep with seven of their players hitting two or more shots from behind the arc, including all five starters.

That’s a recipe for success.





Source link: https://sports.yahoo.com/celtics-thunder-takeaways-porzingis-dominates-022411965.html

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