Oklahoma City Thunder at Boston Celtics (+1, 196)
The Boston Celtics have dropped three of their last four and have been vulnerable at TD Garden, where they have lost half of their first six home games. The Oklahoma City Thunder showed they could fight off the best teams in the west by beating the Clippers on Wednesday and will be looking to kick the Celtics when they are down on Friday night. The Thunder have won three straight and eight of nine.
The Celtics are once again the worst rebounding team in the NBA but instead of making up for that deficiency with strong half court defense like they have in the past, Boston has allowed opponents to score over 100 points in each of its last five setbacks. Oklahoma City is one of the toughest teams in the league to defend with its combination of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and have put up 115.3 points in their last three wins.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSOK (Oklahoma City), CSNNE (Boston), NBATV
ABOUT THE THUNDER (9-3, 7-4-1 ATS): In addition to the dual threat that Durant and Westbrook provide, Kevin Martin has settled comfortably into the sixth man role for Oklahoma City, averaging 17.8 points. The Thunder could also hold an emotional edge over the Celtics thanks to the presence of center Kendrick Perkins, a fan and locker room favorite of Boston that was traded away to the Thunder in the middle of the 2010-11 season. Perkins was limited to seven points and five rebounds in his first trip back to TD Garden last season, but the Thunder managed a 97-88 victory behind 28 points from Durant.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (6-6, 3-7-2 ATS): Boston does not have anyone around with the size to battle Perkins on the interior, leaving that defensive assignment to Kevin Garnett. The more difficult matchups will be Paul Pierce against Durant and Rajon Rondo guarding Westbrook. Rondo collected 22 points and 15 assists on Wednesday but opposing point guard Tony Parker went for 26 points as the Celtics dropped a 112-100 decision at home to San Antonio. Boston is in the bottom half of the league in scoring defense, surrendering 99.3 points, and allowed the Spurs to shoot 58 percent on Wednesday.
* Thunder are 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings in Boston.
* Road team is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
1. Oklahoma City has taken three straight in the series and has won in its last three visits to TD Garden.
2. Rondo extended his streak of double-digit assists to 35 games on Wednesday.
3. Boston F Jeff Green, who came over from Oklahoma City in the Perkins trade, has been held to single digits in scoring in each of the last four games.