GAME PREVIEW (via STATS LLC)
Russell Westbrook continues to be under intense pressure now that the Oklahoma City Thunder are even more short-handed.
He'll next face a rare matchup with the defensive-minded Avery Bradley, who has helped the Boston Celtics post their longest win streak in two seasons.
The Thunder have won 10 straight at home against Eastern Conference foes as they look to defeat the Celtics for the fifth straight time Wednesday night.
Westbrook has six triple-doubles in 13 games since the All-Star break to match the rest of the league. He is averaging 32.5 points, 10.8 assists and 10.0 rebounds in that stretch, with an injured Kevin Durant out 12 times in that span.
Oklahoma City center Serge Ibaka has missed the last three games with lingering soreness in his right knee and is out indefinitely.
"A lot of things, a lot of parts are moving right now," coach Scott Brooks said. "Our guys are workers. We're going to figure it out. We always have. We're not going to stop now."
Ibaka's absence takes away the primary screener for Westbrook on offensive sets, meaning that Steven Adams will be forced to screen more. On 417 screens sets by Ibaka, Westbrook drives or shoots 40.2 percent of the time compared to driving or shooting 48.9 percent of the time on the 321 screens set for him by Adams.
Bradley, who is 0-4 against the Thunder, is known for his defense and has been screened a team-high 859 times as he faces Westbrook for the third time. Westbrook averaged 23.0 points and 4.0 assists in the first two meetings, though both came with Durant.
Oklahoma City (37-30) has allowed 57 points off turnovers in its last two games, including 30 in Monday's 119-115 loss at Dallas. Westbrook is averaging a league-worst 5.8 turnovers since the break and 7.6 in his last five games.
"Thirty points off of our turnovers did not help our cause," Brooks said. "We have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball."
Boston (30-36) is scoring an average of 20.3 points off turnovers since the break for one of the NBA's best marks.
THE BIG STORYLINE (via Chris Forsberg)
The Celtics have had some quality wins during their recent surge -- topping potential high playoff seeds like the Hawks and Grizzlies, all while hanging with the Warriors -- but much of that success has come at home. Boston showed it can win a big game on the road last week in Indiana, but this will be maybe its most challenging game since early March. The focus here is simple: Can Boston's guards slow Westbrook? The Celtics will likely throw everything at him with heavy doses of Bradley and Marcus Smart. Can coach Brad Stevens come up with another game plan to limit the opponent's top weapon?