Oklahoma City Thunder at Boston Celtics
When: 2:00 PM ET, Sunday, February 3, 2019
Where: TD Garden, Boston
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
BOSTON – The Boston Celtics are trying to make a run up the Eastern Conference standings while fending off trade rumors and distractions ahead of the Feb. 7 NBA trade deadline. The Celtics will try to pull off their ninth win in 10 games and keep the Boston fans distracted a bit in the run up to the New England Patriots playing in Super Bowl LIII when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.
Boston is one of several rumored destinations for disgruntled New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis, though pairing him with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving in the Celtics starting lineup is looking like less of a possibility with rumors also swirling that Irving will explore the free agent market this summer. “At this point, it’s nothing but a distraction, honestly,” Irving told reporters after hearing “We want Kyrie” chants from New York Knicks fans in a 113-99 win on Friday. “I appreciate the fans, I appreciate the support. But it’s really about our team now and what we want to accomplish this season, and that’s a championship. My focus is stuck on that.”
The Thunder are trying to prove themselves as championship contenders as well and roll into Boston on a seven-game winning streak after blowing past Orlando and Miami on the first two stops of the three-game trip. All-Star forward Paul George buried a career-high 10 3-pointers en route to 43 points in Friday’s 118-102 triumph over the Heat while fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook posted his fifth straight triple-double with 14 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, ABC
ABOUT THE THUNDER (33-18): Finding consistent scoring options behind George and Westbrook is a focus for the Oklahoma City coaching staff, and reserve point guard Dennis Schroder is stepping up as a reliable third option. The 25-year-old scored 24 of his 28 points in a red-hot second quarter and finished 11-of-13 from the floor on Friday, improving to 19-of-24 on the road trip. “Dennis gave us a big lift,” George told reporters. “People don’t understand how good he is offensively. He can play in the pick and roll, shoot the three, play in the midrange with his floaters and set up and create for guys. He’s another dimension. When we’re all clicking, we’re a pretty good team.”
ABOUT THE CELTICS (33-19): Irving sat out three of the previous four games to rest a sore hip but returned on Friday and collected 23 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in 36 minutes to lead the way. The former No. 1 overall pick made headlines earlier in the day Friday when he made a less-than-firm commitment to staying in Boston through next season and beyond but reiterated his desire to help the team win a championship this year. “We’re professionals, so we move on and we focus on the task at hand, and that was tonight against the Knicks,” veteran forward Marcus Morris told reporters. “We’ve got another one on Sunday, and that’s all we can focus on. We can’t focus on the things we can’t control.”
1. Thunder C Steven Adams went 6-of-15 from the floor on Friday, snapping a string of 11 straight games in which he hit at least 50 percent of his shots.
2. Celtics SF Gordon Hayward is 10-of-18 from the floor in the last two games after going 1-of-11 in the previous two contests.
3. SF Jayson Tatum scored 24 points to lead the way in Boston’s 101-95 victory at Oklahoma City on Oct. 25.