Celtics - Thunder preview: Kevin Durant to return? - Metro US

Celtics – Thunder preview: Kevin Durant to return?

Avery Bradley will see plenty of Russell Westbrook Wednesday night.
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Like the Celtics, the Oklahoma City Thunder are fighting for an 8 seed.

It’s a bit more difficult for OKC out West, of course. With a 37-30 record, the Thunder own just a half-game lead over the Pelicans for the final spot in the West.

The Celtics, still below .500 at 30-36 despite having just ripped off five straight victories, are clawing with the Pacers, Heat and Hornets for seeds 7 and 8 in the East.

The C’s and Thunder will meet Wednesday in OKC (8 p.m., CSNNE).

Another parallel between the Thunder and Celtics is that both teams have been without their best player recently. Kevin Durant (foot) hasn’t played since Feb. 19 against Dallas while Isaiah Thomas (tailbone) hasn’t played since March 9.

There were whispers last week that Durant was targeting Wednesday’s game against Boston as his comeback game while Thomas is expected to miss at least three more games.

“[Celtics trainer] Ed [Lacerte] just said it’s as tough a bruise as he’s ever seen,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said. “Again, nobody wants to play more than that kid. That’s what I appreciated about him. He had himself convinced that he was going to play the next day after he fell. But hopefully he gets better sooner rather than later.”

Without Thomas Monday against Philly, the C’s certainly looked like a playoff team as they thumped one of the league’s dregs, 108-89. Boston owned a 38-18 lead after the first quarter against the Sixers. The Celtics had seven players score in double-digits Monday, with Tyler Zeller leading the way with 26. Avery Bradley had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

The Thunder are coming off a 119-115 loss to the Mavericks in Dallas in which Russell Westbrook fouled out. Westbrook (27.5 ppg in 2014-15) has had to shoulder quite the load with Durant and Serge Ibaka out with injuries as he has put up a remarkable six triple-doubles in his last10 games.

The Celtics are in the midst of a terribly busy month as Wednesday game will already be the 11th game they’ve played in March. The C’s will play the defending champion Spurs in San Antonio Friday before a Sunday-Monday back-to-back at home against Detroit and on the road against Brooklyn. Boston plays 18 games total this month.

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