Boston Celtics

Thunder vs. Celtics: An early season match up that you don't want to miss

kyrie-irving-russell-westbrook-102518-ftr-nba-getty
Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook (NBA Getty Images)

The Boston Celtics (2-2) travel to Oklahoma City to take on the winless Thunder (0-3) Thursday night on NBATV Canada (8 p.m. ET).

While it's far too early for either team to hit the panic button, both teams have struggled out the gate and experienced disappointment in the form of bad home losses.

On Sunday, the Thunder welcomed All-Star Russell Westbrook back into the starting lineup after missing the first two games of the year. A much-improved Sacramento Kings squad played spoiler to Russ' home debut, defeating the Thunder 131-120 behind 22 points and 10 assists from De'Aaron Fox.

One night later, the Celtics played host to the Orlando Magic, who won just 25 games last season. Boston is still working to integrate All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back into its lineup and it showed against Orlando - the Magic never trailed, escaping Boston with a three-point win.

While teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors have dominated early, the Celtics, who entered the season favoured by many to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, find themselves needing a statement win to serve as an early reminder of how good they are. Conversely, OKC desperately looks to avoid losing its first four games to start the season in an uber-competitive Western Conference.

The circumstances both teams find themselves should translate to an intensity level atypical of a game in late October. If last year's games between the Celtics and Thunder are any indicator, this could very well be an instant classic.

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Sure Not Now

Let's revisit, shall we?

Nov. 3, 2017 - Celtics 101, Thunder 94

A tale of two halves

After starting the 2017-18 season 0-2, the Celtics rode a six-game win streak into Oklahoma City to face the 4-3 Thunder.

In the first half, All-Stars Russell Westbrook (12) and Paul George (10) combined for 22 points and the Thunder took an 18-point lead into halftime. The Celtics scored just 37 points in the first 24 minutes while shooting 31 percent from the field,

The second half saw Boston's All-Star duo of Kyrie Irving (22) and Al Horford (17) combine to score 39 points - two more than the team's total in the first half. The Celtics outscored the Thunder 64-39 in the final two quarters, successfully coming back from an 18-point deficit to earn their seventh-consecutive win.

Boston's win streak would eventually reach 16 games - its record was 16-2 one month into the season.

March 20, 2018 - Celtics 100, Thunder 99

A furious finish

Months after relinquishing an 18-point halftime lead at home, Oklahoma City looked to redeem itself with a win at Boston's TD Garden.

With under 30 seconds remaining in regulation, the Thunder held a 98-92 lead over the Celtics. With time on its side and the lead, this couldn't go wrong for OKC, right?

Wrong.

Three missed free throws by the Thunder left the door open for the Celtics, who used impeccable late-game execution to make things close. A 3-pointer from Marcus Morris with 1.2 seconds remaining capped off an 8-1 run that allowed the Celtics to come back and win in regulation despite trailing by six points just over 20 seconds prior.

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