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Game Preview: Pelicans at Celtics

Celtics Blog author Bill Sy and I dish on Boston, their assets and the 2016 presidential election...sort of

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Another game, another interview with a fellow SB Nation writer. For the Pelicans' trip to Boston, I reached out to my pal Bill Sy at CelticsBlog and here's what we talked about in preparation for tonight's game.

1) The Celtics have done what the Pelicans have failed to do this year: build off last season's playoff appearance and emerge as a top four or five team in their conference. What has Boston been able to do that New Orleans hasn't?

Well, to be fair to you guys, New Orleans has suffered a ridiculous amount of injuries. It'd be unfair Alvin Gentry's coaching job or the progress of the Pelicans without that in mind. But in terms of the Celtics, there are a couple of reasons. I think the main thing is continuity. Outside of the rookie class and the addition of Amir Johnson, the roster has been fairly consistent from last year after a season and a half of record turnover. Ainge and Stevens have also recognized how the modern game is changing and prioritized perimeter defense and effective two-way players. Re-signing Avery Bradley, signing Evan Turner, trading for Jae Crowder, and drafting Marcus Smart have been huge.

2) The Celtics had assets galore at their disposal and yet didn't use any of them to add a DeMarcus Cousins or Kevin Love caliber player. Now that the postseason is approaching, will the Celtics regret holding off or is this all part of the plan?

There have been some reports that Ainge was definitely trying to make a big move, but rebuilding takes patience. I'd much rather wait until we have cap space this summer to go after free agents rather than spend assets to bring in players but also simultaneously send value out. A Cousins or Love trade would have gutted the roster, but in July the pie-in-the-sky dream is adding someone like Al Horford, enticing Kevin Durant to join them, and also having a top-three pick, all without disrupting what we already have.

3) Speaking of Cousins, do you think he eventually lands in Boston? And if not, who are they looking at this offseason?


4) A lot of the staff on Bird Writes salivate at the idea of pairing Anthony Davis with Jared Sullinger. How good of a fit are they in your opinion? Can we have him? We'll give you Kendrick Perkins!

This reminds me so much of the sign-and-trade of Big Baby Davis for Brandon Bass. Sully is restricted this summer, but sure, if you can get Ryan Anderson to agree to a deal that sends him to Boston, it's a deal. I don't think it's a perfect fit, but Sullinger would certainly take some dirty work off Davis' plate. He's a very good rebounder, but he doesn't just create space for himself in the paint. Watch an Isaiah Thomas drive or  how Avery Bradley gets freed up for a mid-range jumper. Sullinger is always rooting out defenders and keeping guys on his back.

5) How real is the Celtics fans pulling against Brooklyn thing? And who do the Celtics want to get with that Brooklyn pick?

Hard. Real hard. A scoring wing would be perfect with the Brooklyn pick so Brandon Ingram would be an ideal player.

6) Why's the East so much stronger this season?

I think it's cyclical. Teams like the Celtics, Pistons, Raptors and Hornets have been re-building for a few years now and we're finally seeing the fruits of their labor. There are good head coaches on every playoff team and they all stress defense. There are also fewer stars in the Eastern Conference and that forces teams to play team ball.

7) Bill Simmons calls Brad Stevens "President Brad Stevens." Since this an election year, if Stevens was our commander in chief, who would be his V.P. and Cabinet?

Vice President Thad Matta because Stevens learned the ropes from Matta and I could see him being Stevens' most reliable confidante in the White House. Secretary of State Mark Wahlberg because he's friends with Jimmy Butler and I'd love to see Butler in green. Secretary of Defense Tom Thibodeau because it's a shame that Thibs doesn't have a gig right now and any connection with that 2008 championship team would be sweet.