Coming off one of our worst losses of the year, New Orleans will look to pick up a much needed win tonight in snowy Boston. For practical purposes, it probably represents our only realistic shot at a win on this 4-game road trip, with the Pacers and Heat up next.
At the start of the season, many had predicted the Celtics would be cellar dwellers. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were moved for spare parts (but some very enviable draft picks) and Rajon Rondo was going to miss countless of games rehabbing from a torn ACL. Instead, Boston is currently second and boasts the best home record in the Atlantic division. Granted, that doesn't speak volumes considering how poorly Brooklyn and New York have been, but it does serve as a reminder the Pelicans will need to be sharp enough to emerge victorious.
Ranking in the bottom half of most offensive categories, the Celtics aren't a very potent team. Actually, that's being kind -- they're pretty terrible at getting the ball through the hoop. Boston is ranked in the bottom ten in both points in the paint and three pointers made. When you factor in they're last in assists and bottom five in turnovers, it's no surprise their points per game and offensive efficiency are near the bottom.
However, on the other side of the ball, Coach Brad Stevens has been able to get the team to compete. Defensively, they challenge shots well and give plenty of effort. When that's an issue, Stevens has no qualms about finding the right combination who will, as evidenced by his nightly deep rotations. Only Avery Bradley (meh), Jeff Green (expensive meh) and Jordan Crawford (!!!) surpass 30 minutes a game.
Consequently, a complicated gameplan isn't required. Limit the defensive breakdowns and allow Boston's backcourt to play hero ball. Offensively, execute, by guarding against turnovers and taking high percentage shots. Most Celtic lineups possess very little shot-blocking so getting into the paint should be at the top of our to-do list.
Per Nola.com, Jason Smith has already been ruled out due to a shoulder issue.