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OKC Thunder: Boston's Brad Stevens high on three-guard lineup

The Celtics beat the Thunder 112-111 Sunday in a rousing NBA game that left Oklahomans disappointed at the result but encouraged by the fight. Boston is a good team. The Celtics have won seven straight, and their 37-15 record is fourth-best in the NBA.

And maybe the most encouraging thing is the way Celtics coach Brad Stevens talked about the Thunder. All coaches are complimentary of opponents. But some, you can tell, are serious about it and some are paying lip-service. Stevens seemed serious about the Thunder, particularly its savviness.

“They’re excellent,” Stevens said. “One of the things I really like about ‘em is how savvy they are up and down their lineup. (Shai) Gilgeous-Alexander plays way beyond his years. Obviously, Gallinari’s been doing it a long time. Come off the bench with (Dennis) Schroder. Those are guys that keep you on their heels the whole game. They know how to play.

“It’s a really good system. Clearly, they’re a connected team. It’s not a huge surprise when you think about how good the guys they got back in those deals this summer were. And it’s a testament to their whole organization that they’ve continued to be who they are.”

Against Boston, SGA and Gallinari each scored 24 points. Chris Paul and Schroder scored 22. Each of the four made eight baskets.

But Stevens was not wowed by the remarkable balance.

“Those guys do that about every night,” Stevens said. “I don’t know what their exact averages are, but I think they’re all 18 to 20something. They’re good players, they’re hard to score on, they’re hard to guard. Kept us on our heels. Those guys are good. Hard team to play against.”

Paul made the Western Conference all-star team, and Stevens said it’s no surprise.

“He was really good the last few years in Houston,” Stevens said. “Like really good. Arguably, if he doesn’t get hurt two years ago, they’re in the NBA Finals. So I just think it’s not a huge shock. Again, he’s super savvy. Knows the game inside and out. You can’t throw him a look he hasn’t seen before. He’s good against every coverage, you just have to do your best to guard him as hard as you can.”

The Thunder’s three-point guard lineup of CP3, Schroder and SGA causes problems.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in the last 24 hours just talking about, you really have to cross every t and dot every i,” Stevens said. “They’re hard to play against. Lot of speed, lot of shiftiness. Lot of ability to get to the foul line. It’s tough.”

Related Photos
Oklahoma City's Chris Paul (3) dribbles as Boston's Jayson Tatum (0) defends in the second quarter during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City's Chris Paul (3) dribbles as Boston's Jayson Tatum (0) defends in the second quarter during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-74c5d6dc7c3e868eaba6cb78098ff781.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City's Chris Paul (3) dribbles as Boston's Jayson Tatum (0) defends in the second quarter during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]" title="Oklahoma City's Chris Paul (3) dribbles as Boston's Jayson Tatum (0) defends in the second quarter during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Oklahoma City's Chris Paul (3) dribbles as Boston's Jayson Tatum (0) defends in the second quarter during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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