Celtics - Thunder preview: New players are hungry

Celtics - Thunder preview: New players are hungry
January 24, 2014, 11:00 am
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BOSTON — Guys on 10-day contracts know the window of opportunity is a short one.

So when they get a chance to play, they treat those minutes like a vault full of bitcoins and will do whatever they have to do get more.

"This is what a lot of us wanted ever since we could dribble a basketball, to be in the NBA," Boston's Vander Blue, who signed a 10-day contract with the Celtics on Wednesday, told CSNNE.com. "For a lot of us, it's living your dream."

And because of that, Blue and fellow 10-day contract signee Chris Johnson play with a type of hunger that for players already with guaranteed contracts, might fluctuate throughout the course of an 82-game season.

Injuries to Avery Bradley (ankle) and Jerryd Bayless (left toe) have opened the door for both Blue and Johnson to see time in the Celtics backcourt behind Phil Pressey and Gerald Wallace who usually plays small forward but is now being used as the team's starter at shooting guard.

Johnson played a pivotal role in keeping the Celtics within arm's reach of the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, and was solid the following night at Washington.

Blue was admittedly a little nervous in first couple of minutes in Boston's 113-111 overtime win against the Wizards on Wednesday, but settled down to finish with two points and two rebounds in four minutes.

When both entered the game, a "backs against the wall" mentality was apparent in their play.

"I'm pleased we've added some guys to the roster that feel that way, that also play that way," Stevens said. "I like hungry. Hungry's fun to coach, fun to be around. Hopefully we stay that way."

Here are some other keys in tonight's game:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Getting the Thunder to play catch-up would provide a major boost to Boston's chances at an upset. Of Oklahoma City's 10 losses this season, the last four have come to teams that led after the first quarter of play.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Jeff Green vs Kevin Durant

Green did a great Kevin Durant impersonation at Washington with 39 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Now up against the man himself, Green will be hard-pressed to replicate that performance. Meanwhile, Durant will be aiming for a 10th straight game with 30 or more points. The last time he failed to do so, was against the Celtics. But no need to credit the Celtics defense. Durant finished with 21 in a blowout Thunder win that included former Boston College star Reggie Jackson scoring a career-high 27 points.

PLAYER TO WATCH: We've seen Phil Pressey drop dimes with the best of them. And on Wednesday, we saw the rookie point guard light up a team with his jumper. What's he going to do tonight?

STAT TO TRACK:  Boston will be hard-pressed to get many second-chance opportunities tonight. In addition to leading the NBA with 6.2 blocked shots per game, Oklahoma City is also tops in defensive rebounds (35.2) per game. Meanwhile, Boston averages 11.3 offensive rebounds per game which ranks 15th in the NBA.