Rapid Recap is designed for the busiest of Celtics fans. Whether you can’t stay awake to read 10 paragraphs or your hangover is just too much, Rapid Recap tells the timeline of the game in only a minute or two.
Sometimes NBA teams play poorly for much of a game and still win; other times it’s the exact opposite. The Celtics’ second game against the Thunder was the latter. It was a close game almost all the way, and Boston played well more than they played poorly—but so did Oklahoma City. Mistakes in the fourth quarter by players and coaching alike, particularly in the last two minutes, ultimately led to the Celtics fall, 105-104.
Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart all had strong two-way performances for the majority of the game, with respective lines of 24-5-4-1-2, 19-5-3-2-1 and 19-10-4. Kemba Walker wasn’t so lucky, with 14-6-5-2 on 28.6% shooting and the fatal turnover that cost Boston the game. On OKC’s side, point guards Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder ran the table with 28 and 27 points, respectively.
Throughout the first quarter, the paint was often packed with bodies on both sides of the court—inevitable when two teams with top-10 defenses are facing off (Boston at no. 4 in DRTG, OKC at no. 10).
While Tatum was able to make moves like the sweet finish above, the Cs definitely didn’t have an easy time scoring and neither did the Thunder. The main difference was OKC could spread the scoring around more whereas Tatum and Smart were the Celtics’ primary sources of points.
They traded leads throughout the frame. While the Thunder’s accuracy from deep got them ahead by almost 8, the Celtics scored a flurry of final-minute baskets (a few off of Thunder turnovers) to narrow it to 29-26 Thunder at the end of one.
Great way to start the second!
Lead-trading continued to start Q2, and then Boston went on a two-minute 10-0 run, which included the following bench highlights:
Boston’s defense kept Oklahoma City scoreless for a good 4 minutes or so before Danilo Gallinari got to the line for a technical free throw. But immediately after that the wheels REALLY came off for OKC.
63-52 Celtics at halftime.
As Keith’s tweet suggests, the second half began much more like the first quarter—an extremely well-matched, tight contest between two strong teams. But while it was a smaller lead than they undoubtedly would’ve liked due to Chris Paul’s floor generalship, the Cs did hold serve through the first half of the third quarter, and we got cool shit like this all the while:
Hayward was huge in this quarter:
Things got a little haywire in Q3’s last few minutes as OKC paired Dennis Schroder with CP3 for a nimble offensive backcourt capable of making tough shots. The former of those two got the Thunder closer to the Cs in scoring than they’d been all game with a triple to beat the Q3 buzzer.
Former Celtic Abdel Nader tied the game early in the fourth, Schroder put OKC ahead for the first time since Q2, and then the final frame went back to the war-of-attrition that had dominated so much of the game.
The closeness and intensity of the game let to something of an unfortunate outcome for the final minutes:
And then we almost had a reaaaallll crisis:
The final minute was as anxiety-inducing as anything from the movie Uncut Gems, and about as brutal in its ending. A succession of events good (the block, fast break and bucket by Tatum) to bad (Kemba getting his pocket picked by Schroder, who then had an easy layup) sealed Boston’s fate.