Watch It! - Pelicans at Celtics

Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and New Orleans Pelicans meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight at TD Garden.

Hercules’ Role

Winter storm Hercules did a lot of damage to the Northeast over the past 48 hours. It dumped more than a foot of snow on Boston overnight and continued into the morning.

Brad Stevens on the sideline in Chicago

Brad Stevens and the Celtics were forced to stay overnight last night in Chicago due to winter storm Hercules.
Jonathan Daniel/NBAE/Getty Images

As a result of the snow, the Celtics were unable to make their scheduled flight back home after their game in Chicago last night. They instead flew back this morning and touched down around 1 p.m.

The effect of these travel plans cannot be overstated. There’s a very high percentage that no one on Boston’s roster has ever played an NBA game on the same day that they flew with the team. This is a unique circumstance for these guys and it could very well have a negative effect on their legs and energy level.

Pelicans Struggling on D

New Orleans coach Monty Williams has always put a high priority on defense, but that doesn’t always mean his team will be successful at the defensive end.

The Pelicans are one of the worst defensive teams in the league this season. They allow 103.2 points per game, which ranks 26th in the NBA, and opponents have shot 46.5 percent from the field against them. New Orleans enters tonight’s game having surrendered at least 100 points in eight of their last nine games.

This could be a great thing for the Celtics. They have struggled at the offensive end this season and scored just 82 points last night in Chicago.

Jeff Green Type of Game

Jeff Green hasn’t scored 20 points in a game since Dec. 11. He has scored more than 13 points just once since that date. Tonight might be the game that gets him back on track.

New Orleans only has one player on its roster who is a true small forward. Al-Farouq Aminu is that player, and he’s solid on defense, but he only averages 25.0 minutes of action per game. When Aminu is not on the floor, New Orleans oftentimes plays small ball.

Green should be able to succeed against Aminu while the two are on the floor. Green has 20 pounds on Aminu, meaning he should be able to excel down low when he’s not playing on the wing. Additionally, when Aminu is on the bench, Green should continue to have a size advantage against whoever is guarding him. New Orleans does not have another small forward playing behind Aminu.

Anthony Davis’ Impact

Most NBA pundits believed that Anthony Davis would become a great NBA player. Not all of those pundits, however, thought it would happen this quickly.

Davis, in just his second season in the league, is playing at an MVP-type level. His impact on the floor at both ends of the court is astounding. Davis ranks sixth in the league in player efficiency rating thanks to that balance. Davis is scoring 19.2 points per game while ranking eighth in the league in rebounding (10.3 rebounds per game) and first in the league in blocks (3.2 per game).

He may only be 20 years old, but he’s already a major difference-maker on the floor. Boston will need to figure out a way to handle his impact tonight.

Moving in the Right Direction?

The Celtics are in the midst of one of their largest lulls of the season. They’ve dropped five of their last six games and fell by double-digits at the hands of the Bulls last night.

Most people would look at that stretch in a negative light, but Brad Stevens isn’t like most people. He left the United Center last night after watching the way his team competed with the Bulls.

“I am very encouraged,” Stevens said, “and the reason why is we played very physical.

“I think this is the best we have played in the last seven games.”

Those on the outside may not agree, but Stevens clearly believes that the Celtics are heading in the right direction as tonight’s game approaches.