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Game Preview: Pelicans (With Davis) look to start another winning streak against Celtics

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The Pelicans face the Boston Celtics, who seem to want to make the playoffs this year.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Did you see Anthony Davis against the Detroit Pistons? 39 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks!

The Pelicans got good news with Davis, but got concerning news with Jrue Holiday. Even out of the cast, Holiday is still experiencing swelling and pain, needing to be reevaluated once again. It’s a shame for Jrue, as he was turning it on this season and Eric Gordon was coming back. While conflicted on whether I want him to return to the starting lineup, I just want him to stay healthy. Hopefully, he can get back to 100%.

Other than that, a couple things I noticed: Jimmer Fredette and Luke Babbitt combined for six minutes of play and zero for Elliot Williams. Just continue to make me [sad face emoji] here, Monty Williams. Second, I liked a bit of what I saw from Davis and Alexis Ajinca out there together. Certainly something I want to see in the coming games. That combination has played just 85 minutes together on the season, but has a noticeable 93.7 defensive rating.

Just want to see a bit more before calling for it. Let’s get to those pesky Boston Celtics.

The last time I watched them play, they were dreadful. Now? They’re not as bad and they might be *checks* kinda *checks again* in the middle of a playoff race, sitting two and a half games out of the final spot. The addition of Isaiah Thomas and Jonas Jerebko has given them a slight jolt upward, resulting in a few wins since the deadline.

Btw, Celtics Blog does good previews. Here's one - CelticsBlog

Stats of Note

Offensively, the Celtics are still in the middle, ranking 21st in the league with an offensive efficiency of 100.9. Thomas gives them a dual playmaker/ scorer at the point guard spot and from there, it gets a bit messy. Jerebko has been fine, Avery Bradley is better as a third, fourth option, but is pushed into that lead role at points throughout the season. Their third best scorer is Kelly Olynyk? Let’s just move on.

A player that I like? Tyler Zeller. I was a bit shocked the Cavaliers gave up on him last summer until, well, you know. Seven footer, could run the floor, not the worst rim protector, good hands, could finish at the rim and could pass the ball. Not a monster athlete and isn’t a vacuum on the glass. He’s a decent backup center on a rookie deal. Only 25 years old, too.

Defensively, the Celtics are 13th in the league at 103.3, but I love them much more than that. The combination of rookie guard Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley is going to be fun in a season or two. Bradley is well known for being a pest and bothering guards on the defensive end, but it’s Smart defense that caught my eye. If I had to describe it with one word, the word I’d pick is loud. It’s a very noticeable defense, based on the people he guards, how he guards them (tenacious) and some of the little things he can do due to his frame, like bowl over screens.

In general, the Celtics are going to be in the middle range until they can land that star player. They have the assets to make a trade for an established star (Boogie?), but I imagine they may want to continue building the roster up first before going that route. They also have an elite head coach. I believe Brad Stevens is going to be one of the six best coaches in basketball soon, so combine assets, a good head coach and smart front office people, and the potential for a good, perennial contender is there.

Keys to Victory

Attack the Rim - The Celtics have no one to protect the rim. Players like Tyreke Evans will be able to slash through their defense and force guys like Kelly Olynyk, Brandon Bass and Tyler Zeller to defend the rim from the perimeter. Working some little pick and roll with Davis, allowing him to meet them at the summit is also advisable.

Force the Three Ball - The Celtics are 25th in the league in shooting threes but 12th in hoisting them. They just haven’t been able to produce without a reliable shooter and Marcus Thornton was shipped out in the Isaiah Thomas trade. Boston finds a way to launch threes, but they don’t hit them. Stifle them on the defensive end, force long possessions and make them throw it up from beyond the arc.

Feed Anthony Davis - Simple. Enough. I want him to have another monster game.

I’m feeling good about this one. Curious who’ll stop Thomas, but I think the wings will be able to provide help. Mecha-Davis back and it’s time to start another winning streak. Go Pels.

Who - Boston Celtics at New Orleans Pelicans

Where- Smoothie King Center

When- 8:00 est, 7:00 cost

How to Watch - League Pass, Fox Sports South West.