The Oklahoma City Thunder and their new Big Three will travel to TD Garden to face Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics on Friday night. It will be a battle between two teams looking to make a mark in their respective conferences.
The Celtics are riding a six-game win streak after getting off to an 0-2 start. With a victory, they could become the first team in NBA history to win seven straight after starting a season with two consecutive losses.
Kyrie vs. Russ
It'll be a much-anticipated point guard matchup between Irving and Russell Westbrook, two of the best in the business.
Irving has scored 174 total points so far this season, the most in Celtics franchise history through eight games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Previously, the most was 173 by Kevin Garnett in 2007.
Westbrook has adjusted his game to complement newcomers Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. After winning the scoring title by putting up 31.6 points per game in 2016-17, Westbrook is averaging just 19.6 points through the Thunder's first seven games. That 12-point decrease is the largest in the NBA so far this season. Tiny Archibald in 1973-74 is the only player in league history to average less than 20 points after scoring 30-plus points per game the previous season.
Friday will be the 10th head-to-head matchup between Irving and Westbrook, with Irving holding a 6-3 advantage in those games.
Efficiency from both teams
The Celtics and Thunder are the top-two teams in the NBA in defensive efficiency so far this season, and they share similarities across the board. Oklahoma City has a slight edge on offense, while Boston owns the league's top defense.
Can Celtics youngsters shine against Thunder veterans?
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have both stepped up in Gordon Hayward's absence, with the young duo averaging a combined 30.1 points per game. They'll have their hands full on Friday, staring at two proven stars in Anthony and George.
The combo of Anthony and George is averaging 42.4 points, which is fourth in the NBA by a pair of forwards, behind the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton (50.6), the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James and Kevin Love (44.0) and the Orlando Magic's Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier (42.7).
The Celtics (6-2) and Thunder (4-3) are set to tip off at 9:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game on ESPN or the ESPN App.