Boston Celtics game previews between December 19 and December 25, including games against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks.
The Celtics are on a two-game winning streak after being bolstered by the return of Isaiah Thomas. On Friday, Boston took down Charlotte 96-88, and on Sunday they were able to hold off the Miami Heat 105-95. Thomas led the team in both wins, he scored 26 points while dropping five dimes against the Hornets and put up 23 points plus four assists against the Heat before he was ejected in the fourth quarter. IT seemed to inadvertently make contact with Justice Winslow but the referees decided it was a flagrant 2 foul and Thomas was forced to exit the game early. The ejection shouldn't affect his availability this week, and it looks like his troublesome groin strain won't either.
With the wins, Boston has moved back up to the third seed in the eastern conference. The Celtics are a mere 15-12 but they are 9-3 when the full roster is healthy and available to play. There's still a lot of basketball to play and no reason to even think about panicking.
Tuesday, 20 December 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Away
The Celtics are back on the road again to take on the Memphis Grizzlies. As always, the Grizzlies are a team built on the grit and grind. They always play tough, physical basketball and that style hasn't wavered under new coach David Fizdale. Finally back and healthy is Marc Gasol, who leads Memphis with 19.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. The highest paid player in the NBA, Mike Conley, is averaging 18.6 points, 5.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
The Grizzlies have been dealing with injuries all season, and they are still missing offseason acquisition Chandler Parsons. This game is going to be a battle on the glass, it's crucial that the Celtics win it so they can put themselves in the best position possible for a victory.
Thursday, 22 December 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Away
Boston sees the Pacers for the second time this season after edging them 105-99 back on November 12th. Indiana is currently 14-14 under first-year head coach Nate McMillan.
The Pacers are led by budding superstar Paul George, he's averaging 21.8 points, seven rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game. Second year center Myles Turner has begun to take the leap, he's putting up 15.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. Indiana is a dangerous team, the Celtic bigmen are going to need to keep the Pacers frontline in check.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Friday, 23 December 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Home
The Celtics dropped a heart breaker to the Thunder, 99-96, last Sunday. It was a valiant effort by a team that was missing their leading scorer while also taking on one of the best players in the league in Russell Westbrook. Westbrook has absolutely taken over the Thunder's offense, he's usually the only consistent, legitimate offensive threat that the Thunder have. He's been taking over and lighting the league up, Westbrook is averaging 30.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, 11 assists and 1.3 steals per contest. He's leading the league in scoring and has recorded 13 triple doubles, if Westbrook's season averages stand then he will become the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple double.
This is a winnable game for Boston, they just need to try and keep Westbrook in check, which hasn't worked well for most teams this season.
New York Knicks
Sunday, 25 December 2016 at 12:00 PM ET Away
The week is capped by Boston's first Christmas Day game since 2012 when they defeated the Nets 93-76. The Knicks acquired Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee during the offseason to try and bolster their roster, so far, it's led them to a 14-13 record.
The Knicks are led by (of course) Carmelo Anthony, who's averaging 22.3 points, six rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Kristaps Porzingis is another player who we see starting to take a step forward in his development in his sophomore season. Porzingis is putting up 20.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
The Celtics blew the Knicks out 115-87 on November 11th, so hopefully they can deliver Celtic Nation an extra present this year.