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The New Orleans Pelicans are currently ranked eleventh (11th) in the Western Conference with a record of 13-14. While being in eleventh is surely daunting, it is only three wins behind the first place Los Angeles Clippers.
The Pelicans will be playing this match as the second leg of a back to back against the Detroit Pistons on a short two game Eastern Conference road trip. Despite that, with an early start against the Pistons and a late start against the Celtics, the Pelicans have a bit more time to rest before taking on the former Eastern Conference finalists.
The Boston Celtics are currently ranked fifth (5th) in the Eastern Conference with a record of 15-10. Don’t look now but the Celtics are on a five-game winning streak and have done well to separate themselves from the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
After easily defeating the Chicago Bulls, the Boston Celtics will be taking on a Pelicans team on the second leg of a back to back. Regardless of schedule, the Pelicans are an always-dangerous team with a transcendent star in Anthony Davis who can take a win from any team in the NBA.
One a storied NBA franchise, the other a young and ambitious team of less than five years, the Boston Celtics and the New Orleans Pelicans are all square in their all-time series 18-18.
Should the Boston Celtics win the match, they would improve to 16-10 and match the Indiana Pacers at fourth (4th) in the Eastern Conference.
If the New Orleans Pelicans win the match, they would move ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference standings and be one game out from a playoff spot at 15-14.
Can the Pelicans keep up with the Celtics Ball movement?
Do the Pelicans need a backup point guard?
We’re going to compare the Pelicans and Celtics and attempt to answer those questions.
The Boston Celtics are the opposite of a selfish team. After implementing their new lineup—Smart and Morris into the starting lineup, Hayward and Brown to the bench—the Boston Celtics have found a new balance that has led to a five-game win streak.
Most evident of their unselfishness, the Celtics rank sixth (6th) in the league in assisted field goals made (62.4%) and eighth (8th) in assisted three-point field goals made at (85.3%). Now that the Celtics have top tier weapons in every lineup, their offence is more defined and coach Brad Stevens can worry less about shot distribution amongst his star players.
The loss of Elfrid Payton this season to injury has been a massive blow to the New Orleans Pelicans. In their last loss to the Celtics, the Pelicans backup guards Tim Frazier, Ian Clark, and Frank Jackson only appeared for a combined twelve minutes.
As a result, the Pelicans are in the leagues bottom third in turnovers per game. Without proper playmaking options, the Pels are making mistakes and forcing their less talented ball handlers to make plays. Now a quarter of the way into the season, don’t be surprised to see the Pelicans inquire about some talented point guards across the NBA.
E’Twuan Moore (lower leg strain) is day-to-day and likely to play.
Elfrid Payton will undergo surgery Tuesday for a fracture in his pinky. He will be reevaluated after six weeks.
Guerschon Yabusele, landed on a teammates foot and sprained his right ankle. He will likely miss time.
Al Horford, knee, did not play Saturday against the Bulls. He is questionable for the game against the Pelicans.
Aron Baynes is day-to-day, but missed the Saturday match up against the Bulls. He is questionable for the match against the Pelicans.
Solomon Hill replaced E’Twuan Moore in the starting lineup on Wednesday and has continued that trend since his start in Detroit. In 27 minutes he logged 5 points on 2-2 shooting while also grabbing 8 rebounds.
After coming back from a tough injury last season, Solomon Hill has done little to contribute to the Pelicans so far this season. He averages approximately 22 minutes per game, but contributes only 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds on only 33% from beyond the arc. Perhaps being inserted into the starting lineup will be the spark he needs, but if he doesn’t contribute soon, he maintains a very movable contract.
Against the Chicago Bulls, Daniel Theis was inserted in the starting lineup in place of injured C Al Horford. He responded to the promotion by contributing 22 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 blocks, all on 53% shooting from the field and 57% from three.
While his star-like production was against the lowly Chicago Bulls, Daniel Theis showed a diverse and valuable skillset. At center he can shoot and pass the ball and he also has the athleticism to protect the rim and challenge shooters. While undersized at 6’8, the German combo-forward has recently been flashing his skillset.
Kyrie Irving is averaging 21.8 points and 6.4 assists per game while shooting a solid 39% from beyond the arc. With his newfound options on the court, Irving is averaging a career high in assists per game. After a tough October to start the season, Kyrie Irving has done well to rebound to his old-self on the offensive end come this holiday season now shooting 50% from the field.
Anthony Davis is the star, but Jrue Holiday is the key to make the Pelicans engine run. Holiday is averaging a career high in points per game and assists, however he is struggling to convert form three averaging a paltry 28% from beyond the arc. Despite that his playmaking abilities are essential. The Pelicans backup guards have struggled to impress so it’s up to Holiday to drive the team forward.
It will be an interesting matchup between two heady, All-Star guards. Irving is certainly the more accomplished scorer, but Holiday is no slouch on defence and can make plays with the best of them. It may be a game of the supporting cast to see which star point guard can prop up their teammates to succeed.
The odds makers have the Boston Celtics favoured over the New Orleans Pelicans by 7, with an over/under of 110.
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
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