As the Playoffs are only a couple weeks away, the NBA regular season is entering its most crucial fraction. With top spots in the West still out for grabs in an unprecedented three-horse race, the Oklahoma City Thunder pay a visit to the East-topping Boston Celtics tonight in what should be an intense game between two of the best sides in the league this year. Oklahome clinched a playoff spot for the forst time in four years this weekend, but the Thunder have an even more impressive opportunity in these last games of the season: to top the Western Conference. As it stands today, both OKC and Minnesota sit just half a game behind reigning champions Denver in the Western standings: however takes that first spot will be guaranteed home court advanatge until the Finals – if any of the those three get that far. It has been quite a few years since we saw such an intense battle for the top of the West between three teams, which just goes to show how stacked with talent the conference has become. Just consider that the Lakers, Warriors and Suns will likely have to battle it out in the Play-In for a chance to just make the Playoffs!

On the other side of things in the East, Boston have already clinched the top seed, as they currently stand 12 games ahead of second-placed Milwaukee Bucks with just seven games left to go in the regular season. There are a few questions that the Celtics need to answer before making a realistic run at the title: they recenbtly lost two back-to-back games against the 10th seed Atlanta Hawks, which should worry them, expecially considering one of them was a huge come-from-behind win by Dejounte Murray and company. This will also be an important game for Boston considering they lost in Oklahoma earlier in the season on January 2nd. The fact that the Celtics have struggeld againt top opponents in the West should give pause to thier fans: they lost twice to Denver, once to the Thunder (so far), Clippers and Timberwolves. They’ll need to start adapting soon, and the likes of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will need to step it up against tougher opposition in the west if they are to beat whover they could face in the Finals – if they get through the East first (which however they shown themselves more than capable to do this season).

In short, both teams have an important reason to want to get w in out of this showdown. As the Playoffs are quickly approaching, getting into postseason mode is a must for the top-ranked teams: OKC are in the hunt for top spot in the West, while Boston need to demontrate that they can successfully take on strong opposition from out-of-conference. The real question in this match is whether OKC’s star man Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will feature, as he was unavailable for their game in Philadelphia on Tuesday. If he is, we’ll have a real match on our hands – essentially a preview of what this year’s playoffs will look like. For this game, I believe the Celtics will come out on top, as they’ve simply got too much size and shooting power for the Thunder to limit them. Chet Holmgren will have his hands full with Porzingis, and they’ll look to switch on him as much as possible on the perimeter, with the Celtics being the league leaders in three-pointers this season, it will be a high-scoring affair, so I suggest a total of Over 231.5 points (1.88). For a slightly riskier play, Id suggest Boston to win by 11+ at 2.05.

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Boston Celtics to Win – 1.26

OKC Thunder to Win – 4.00