This past week the Celtics had their first encounter with a Western Conference that was projected to be an absolute juggernaut this season.
Coming off a home victory against the Atlanta Hawks this past Friday, the Celtics traveled to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder and new coach Billy Donovan. With most New England fans tuning into the Patriots-Giants game on Sunday night, the Celtics were able to rattle off a 100-85 win against one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
So far this season, Russell Westbrook has been the best players in the NBA not named Steph Curry. Celtics point guard Marcus Smart was able to keep Westbrook under control for most of the game. In classic Westbrook fashion, the 6’3” guard took a majority of the team’s shots (Kevin Durant was out with an injury) and ended the game shooting a dismal 25% from the field on 5-for-20. Smart was the leading scorer on the Celtics after finishing the game with 26 points.
Next up for the Celtics was a Monday night match up with a Houston Rockets team that Bill Simmons projected to have the most wins in the NBA. Boston caught the Rockets at a good time as the team was amidst turmoil with coach Kevin McHale and superstar James Harden. The Celtics outscored the Rockets 56-40 in the second half and took home a 111-95 victory. The game would be the last for McHale as head coach of the Rockets as he was fired the day after. Reports have surfaced that we may be seeing McHale back at the Garden pretty soon.
The Celtics last Western Conference opponent of the week were the pesky Dallas Mavericks at the TD Garden on Wednesday night. Preseason rankings projected the Mavericks to be a potential tanking team but, Dallas silenced those critics and after playing solid team defense and getting timely buckets thanks to a cast of characters that included Zaza Pachulia, Deron Williams, and Raymond Felton.
The Celtics played well early and got out to a 31-16 lead on the Mavs. Mavs team owner Mark Cuban was not pleased. Dallas then mounted a slow, but steady comeback and took the lead for the first time in the game late in the 4th quarter. Eventually a late turnover from Isaiah Thomas would seal the game for the Mavericks and put the Celtics at 2-2 on the year against the Western Conference (C’s lost to Spurs earlier in the season).
The Celtics will not face another Western Conference opponent until December 11th when they welcome the defending champion Golden State Warriors to the Garden.