BOSTON – For the first time in the 492-game history of the Oklahoma City Thunder, they will play without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
With Westbrook already sidelined with a knee injury, a sore shoulder will prevent Durant from playing tonight against the Boston Celtics.
“It’s going to be weird,” Kendrick Perkins said.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks wouldn’t speculate whether Durant will miss more than tonight’s game, but he said Perry Jones will start in Durant’s place.
Oklahoma City has been worse offensively, better defensively and only slightly worse overall with Durant on the bench this season, but those Durant-less minutes were obviously carefully chosen. The Thunder’s starting lineup tonight – Reggie Jackson, Thabo Sefolosha, Jones, Serge Ibaka and Perkins – has played just two minutes together this season.
“We have more than enough to compete,” Brooks said. “An old coach of mine, ‘All you need is five.’ And we have five guys.”
This is Jones’ third-career start, his second in place of Durant. In Oklahoma City’s final regular-season game last year, Jones had 14 points and nine rebounds as Durant rested.
“It’s his chance to show us, the coaches and the rest of the NBA what he can do,” Perkins said of Jones.
But Perkins also offered a warning.
“When one of your leaders goes out like Kevin who’s been averaging all these points, everybody thinks they’ve got to step up,” Perkins said. “No, the thing is you just do what you do, but do it a little bit better. So, that doesn’t mean go out and take more shots and stuff like that. It means run your offense harder. It means play better defense. Just give yourself a chance.”