Watch It! - Celtics at Pelicans
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and New Orleans Pelicans meet at 6 p.m. Sunday night at the Smoothie King Center.
Davis Playing like an MVP
Anthony Davis has been out of his mind for the past week and a half. With no exaggeration, the guy is playing at an MVP-type level.
Davis has torched his last five opponents to the tune of 30.8 points per game, 13.0 rebounds per game and 3.0 blocks per game. He scored at least 28 points in each of those games, maxing out with 36 Friday night against Portland.
The second-year big man didn’t quite reach those levels against Boston back on Jan. 3 but he was pretty close. Davis notched 23 points, nine boards and three blocks to push New Orleans to a 95-92 victory.
Boston doesn’t have a long, athletic big man to match up well with the 6-foot-10 Davis. With that in mind, there’s a strong probability that Davis’ incredible streak will continue on Sunday.
Attacking the Offensive Glass
One of Boston’s greatest strengths this month has been offensive rebounding. The C’s have grabbed an average of 18.3 offensive rebounds per game over their last three contests.
Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger and Kris Humphries have been at the forefront of Boston’s prowess on the offensive glass. Over the last three games, Olynyk has grabbed 14 offensive rebounds while Sullinger and Humphries have each pulled in 12.
This offensive rebounding trend has a good possibility of continuing in New Orleans. The Pelicans allow opponents to grab 10.8 offensive rebounds a night. The C’s totaled 22 offensive boards when these teams met on Jan. 3.
Get it Together on Offense
Boston’s offense has looked pretty anemic since putting up 118 points in a win over the Pistons on March 9. Brad Stevens doesn’t typically criticize his guys publicly, but the offense was bad enough Friday night against Phoenix to draw the coach’s ire during his postgame press conference.
“We didn’t play with any poise,” he said. “… Our offense was incredibly stagnant and, again, I didn’t think we took great shots and we were clearly not shooting well.”
Clearly is right. The Celtics scored just 80 points on 30.9 percent shooting for the night. Kris Humphries and Chris Johnson led the team in scoring, but they only scored 11 points apiece. Four of the team’s five starters scored in single-digits. That simply isn’t good enough to win games.
We’ve seen flashes of how impressive this offense can be. The Celtics just scored 118 points and dished out 38 assists last Sunday. They’ll be much better suited to down the Pelicans if they can show some semblance of that type of play.
Pelicans Playing Well
Don’t allow the Pelicans’ 26-39 record to fool you. This team is heading into the final month of the regular season playing very solid basketball.
New Orleans is 3-2 in its last five games and has put up at least 103 points in four of those five contests. Its only two losses during that stretch came at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies and the Portland Trail Blazers, who have combined for a 40-23 record since the beginning of February.
A wave of offensive production has paced the Pelicans during their last five games. Boston will defend an offense that has scored an average of 109.2 PPG over its last five contests on 48.8 percent shooting.
Rondo’s Night To Feast
Rajon Rondo has struggled during his last two games. He has averaged just 8.0 PPG and 6.5 APG during those contests while shooting a woeful 26.7 percent from the field. Those struggles are fresh on everyone’s mind, but they may not surface tonight.
Rondo will be facing off a youngster Sunday night. Brian Roberts, who is in his second season out of Dayton, is the new starting point guard for New Orleans now that Jrue Holiday is out for the season with a stress fracture in his right tibia. He has been starting for the Pelicans since Jan. 10 and to his credit, he has been more than serviceable… on offense.
Defense is a whole other story. Synergy rates Roberts as a below-average defender who doesn’t excel at slowing down any particular type of shot. He gives up .89 points per possession on pick-and-rolls, which is not good, and Rondo is a master of the pick-and-roll.
Keep an eye out for a resurgence from Rondo during this game. He has underperformed his last two times out and will be looking to change that trend against a ripe youngster like Roberts.