The New Orleans Pelicans (14-14) face off against the Boston Celtics (15-10) on the road Monday night. The Celtics enter the contest on a five-game winning streak that began with a win over the Pels in the Smoothie King Center on November 26th.
In that previous meeting, a disheartening 124-107 defeat, New Orleans was off in several key areas — which they’ll need to correct if they want to beat a hot Celtics team.
Keys to Victory
Guard the Three-point Stripe
New Orleans allowed Boston to shoot a sizzling 48.7% (19-39) from three in that loss several weeks ago to the Celtics. The Pelicans simply do not shoot well enough to allow opponents to get too many open looks from deep. In reality, very few teams can win giving up that many three point makes, the Pelicans are certainly not one of those few.
In their November 26th win, Kyrie Irving led that way for Boston, hitting 5 of his 10 three-point attempts en route to a 26-point and 10-assist performance. Look for Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry to throw Jrue Holiday on Irving as much as possible. In addition, the Pels will need solid defensive performances from “wing” players Solomon Hill and perhaps Wesley Johnson. The Celtics have a slew of impressive wing players led by former #2 overall pick Jasyon Tatum and former NBA All-star Gordon Hayward.
Good luck gentlemen, good luck.
Protect the Rock
The Pelicans have continued their disturbing high turnover trend. New Orleans is currently averaging 15.2 turnovers per game, thats good — or bad — for 21st in the association. New Orleans lost the turnover battle 22-13 in the last meeting between these teams.
The Pelicans were on their way to cleaner game last night, but 12 turnovers after halftime gave the Detroit Pistons life until the final minutes. Again, the Pels just aren’t good enough right now to give away that many possessions. This has to be a point of emphasis for New Orleans against the Celtics.
Clean the Boards
If there is one advantage New Orleans should expect in every game, it’s the front court exerting their dominance on the glass. Because the #DoItBigs are the heart of the Pels roster, rebounding is a strength for New Orleans. Anthony Davis and company currently rank 4th in rebounding with 47.7 rebounds per game. Yet despite these strong rebounding numbers, they narrowly lost the rebounding battle in their last meeting with Boston 42-40.
While New Orleans may have the best player in this matchup — let’s hope Davis’ hip injury sustained against Blake Griffin doesn’t grow worse overnight to where he’ll be unable to play, Boston has far more depth than the Pelicans. To steal this win on the road, New Orleans will have to take care of fundamentals like turnovers and rebounds to limit the possessions for a deep Celtics team.
Let’s geaux, Pels!
Where To Watch
What: New Orleans Pelicans at Boston Celtics
Where: TD Garden Arena
When: Monday, December 10, 2018, 6:30 p.m. Central
How: NBAtv, FSNO 99.5 FM WRNO