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Celtics-Thunder Preview

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Both the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder figured on better results through the early part of the season.

But heading into their Thursday meeting at Chesapeake Energy Arena, both teams are looking for some positive momentum.

For the Thunder, things are reaching the point of desperation after an 0-3 start that has Oklahoma City last in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage.

On the other side, Boston is searching for consistency after alternating wins and losses through its first four games.

"There are times we look really good and there are times we don't look good at all," Celtics forward Al Horford told reporters after Boston's 93-90 loss to Orlando on Monday. "We just have to keep learning -- hopefully winning and learning as opposed to losing. Sometimes, these type of things have to happen for the group to react."

Oklahoma City has struggled on both ends of the floor, but its defensive woes have been most notable -- especially since its offensive efficiency figures to increase as point guard Russell Westbrook works his way back into shape after missing the entire preseason and the first two regular-season games before he returned for Sunday's loss to Sacramento.

The Thunder have particularly struggled in transition on the defensive end, something the Celtics figure to try to exploit.

"The challenge for us is that we're such a good offensive rebounding team," Thunder coach Billy Donovan told reporters Wednesday. "But what we've got to understand is that there's certain times where it doesn't make sense to go offensive rebound with a particular player based on where that player is positioned on the floor. The likelihood of them coming down with an offensive rebound is really low, and we'd be much better suited as a team for a player like that to come back."

While the Thunder are at the bottom in the stat, Boston isn't much better in effective field-goal percentage, ranking No. 26 in the league at 47 percent.

"We have to be a lot better than we've been," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "I mean, it has not been a secret for a month, right? So we all know that."

Stevens said his team might be pressing a bit on both ends.

"I think that's what happens sometimes when your shots aren't falling, but usually it's because you're getting outplayed," he said.

Boston is in a stretch where nine of 12 games are on the road, including five in a row in early November.

Oklahoma City figures to have Alex Abrines available after he left Sunday's loss in the second quarter following an inadvertent blow to the eye from teammate Nerlens Noel.

"But I also am cautious from the standpoint that because he didn't do everything (Wednesday) I'll find out a lot more tomorrow morning," Donovan said. "But he's trending in that direction."

The Celtics, though, look to be without center Aron Baynes, who missed Monday's game after suffering a hamstring injury two days earlier.

Baynes returned to practice Tuesday in some capacity but on Wednesday was ruled out for the game.

Updated October 24, 2018

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