BOSTON CELTICS (34-27)
at OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (46-16)
Tip-off: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma City -10.5, Total: 199.5
The Celtics are trying to stay perfect this month when they visit the high-powered Thunder on Sunday afternoon.
Boston has not lost since Feb. 24, ripping off five straight wins (SU and ATS), with three of those coming on the road in tough venues (Utah, Philadelphia and Indiana). Oklahoma City is also red-hot, with seven wins in its past eight contests (6-2 ATS), including four straight victories. The Thunder are also 27-4 SU (22-9 ATS) at home this season, outscoring these visitors by 14.3 PPG. Although Boston won the first matchup of this season series on Nov. 23 by a score of 108-100, Oklahoma City won the three previous meetings (SU and ATS) by 5, 9 and 15 points when these teams last met as Chesapeake Energy Arena on Feb. 22, 2012.
Can the Thunder roll to a double-digit victory on Sunday? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. All four experts continue to sizzle in NBA Best Bets. StatFox Gary is 79% ATS (11-3) in March and 76% ATS (19-6) since Feb. 20, StatFox Brian is 69% ATS in March (9-4), including 75% ATS (6-2) in the past six days, StatFox Scott is 62% ATS (33-20) since Feb. 3 and StatFox Dave is 58% ATS (7-5) in the past six days. Since February began, the experts are a collective 58% ATS (124-91), including 56% ATS (31-24) in March. Scott is now 56% ATS (103-81-1) for the season, while Gary is 54% ATS (82-70-4) and Brian is 52% ATS (99-93-3). For NBA Totals, Gary is a perfect 3-0 in the past three days, while Scott is 63% (10-6-1) since Feb. 22 to raise his season record to 56% (86-67-1) in Totals.
A big reason Boston was able to beat Oklahoma City in November was the heroics of PG Rajon Rondo who had 16 assists and just two turnovers that game. But although Rondo is now out for the season with a torn ACL, the team hasn't skipped a beat, going 14-4 (SU and ATS) since Jan. 27, which was the first game the Celtics played after Rondo suffered his injury. Boston's offense hasn't always been great this season (96.3 PPG on 46% FG and 35% threes), but it is certainly clicking during the five-game win streak with 100.6 PPG on 48% FG and 42% threes. SF Paul Pierce (18.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG) has been the catalyst for the win surge with 22.0 PPG (51% FG, 46% threes), 8.2 RPG and 6.0 APG in the five games. PF Kevin Garnett (15.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG) has also played well with 14.6 PPG (48% FG) and 9.4 RPG during the five victories. The duo combined for 44 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists in Friday's 107-102 overtime win over Atlanta. SG Jason Terry (10.4 PPG) was also a key player in that victory with 19 points (3-of-4 threes), five assists and four rebounds. PF Jeff Green (11.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG) also contributed mightily off the bench against Atlanta with 12 points, three assists and a game-high +10 rating. All four of these players also performed at a high level in the Nov. 23 win versus the Thunder. Pierce had a team-high 27 points, Garnett went for 18 points, nine rebounds and a game-high +18 rating, while Terry pumped in 16 points (6-of-8 FG, 4-of-6 threes) and Green had 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
Oklahoma City is an outstanding offensive team with 107.0 PPG on 48.4% FG and 39.2% threes. This club has scored at least 100 points in each of its past 12 home games, averaging a whopping 113.8 PPG on 51% FG and 45% threes. SF Kevin Durant (28.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 4.7 APG) needed just 24 minutes in Friday's game to light up Charlotte for 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds. In his past nine games, he's averaging a well-rounded 24.3 PPG, 10.2 RPG and 6.6 APG, a stretch that includes two triple-doubles. PG Russell Westbrook (23.4 PPG, 7.7 APG, 5.2 RPG) had scored at least 20 points in 10 straight games before tallying just 11 points in 25 minutes against the Bobcats. SG Kevin Martin (14.5 PPG) has been in a shooting funk since March began, scoring just 10.2 PPG on 33% FG in five games. But PF Serge Ibaka (13.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.0 BPG) has barely missed a shot during a six-game streak of scoring in double-figures, averaging 15.0 PPG on 66% FG and 79% FT while adding 7.1 RPG and 2.9 BPG on the defensive end. Ibaka tallied 17 points and 13 boards (4 offensive) in the Nov. 23 loss in Boston, while Durant had 29 points (but only three rebounds) and Westbrook had a well-rounded 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Martin was the only key Thunder player that struggled in that defeat at TD Garden, making just 1-of-7 shots and posting a minus-15 rating.