As the Pelicans return to the Smoothie King Center, they have a sense of relief — every trip they spend away from it brings trouble.
New Orleans is on a three-game losing streak since its last home appearance. In that span, the Pelicans fell to Philadelphia, New York and Washington, suffering fourth-quarter meltdowns throughout. There was no expectation for this team to steal a win from the 76ers, but something was left on the table when Anthony Davis missed a free throw that would’ve sent the game to overtime. Nonetheless, the two games that followed were much more concerning.
The Pelicans allowed a fourth-quarter 16-2 run which propelled the New York Knicks to victory at Madison Square Garden; meanwhile, Davis took just one shot in the final three minutes. In the nation’s capital the following night, Davis sat due to a right hip strain and was forced to watch New Orleans’ offense die in the latter half of the fourth quarter against the Wizards. This ended the three-game road stretch empty handed in anticipation of a home contest with the Boston Celtics.
One thing the Celtics and Pelicans have in common: the Knicks also handed Boston one of its worst losses of the season. Brad Stevens’ squad was the favorite to walk away with the Eastern Conference, but mixing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward into a team that fell just one game short of a trip to the Finals hasn’t come easy.
Boston’s problems mostly reside on offense, where the team ranks 23rd in points per game (106.3) and 27th in offensive rating (104.6). Regardless, they will not give New Orleans its bread and butter easy. The Celtics are bottom-third in allowing points off turnovers, opponent second chance points, opponent fast break points and opponent points in the paint to go along with the league’s second-best defensive rating at 102.8.
New Orleans and Boston both sit at 10-10 overall on the season after recent slides, eager to right the ship as pages continue to get ripped from the NBA calendar. There isn’t much time left to waste before the outcomes add up and begin to negatively shape a team’s season.
What: New Orleans Pelicans vs Boston Celtics
Where: Smoothie King Center
When: Monday, November 26, 2018, 7:00 p.m. Central
How: FSNO, 99.5 FM WRNO
Injury Report: Davis (hip strain) is questionable. Jaylen Brown (lower-back bruise) is doubtful.