Pregame report: Celtics at Pelicans (3/16/14)

by Jim Eichenhofer

News and updates from the Smoothie King Center prior to Sunday’s interconference game between Boston and New Orleans:

• Pelicans Coach Monty Williams on Boston’s strengths: “(Rajon) Rondo is the guy for them. He can control pace, he’s a great passer, can score the ball, has shown he can defend his position. He demands a lot of attention. They had 22 offensive rebounds against us (in the Jan. 3 matchup in Boston), so we’ve got to rebound the ball. And stop Rondo’s penetration.”

• Williams said one concern for his team is that defenders have been playing Brian Roberts physically as the point guard tries to get the Pelicans into their offensive sets. Portland backup Earl Watson used a particularly rugged brand of defense against Roberts on Friday but was not whistled for a foul. “Brian Roberts can hardly get the ball down the floor without people putting their hands on him,” Williams said. “I’d like to see him blow by guys who try to do that.”

• Boston’s injured list includes Vitor Faverani (out, torn MCL left knee) and Gerald Wallace (out, left knee, left ankle arthroscopies).

• What’s at stake for the Celtics (22-44): Any distant hopes Boston had of making the playoffs likely evaporated with a current three-game losing streak, combined with a three-game win streak by eighth-place Atlanta. The Celtics are now eight games behind the Hawks. Boston (4-24 vs. the Western Conference) is seeking a rare win this season against the West.

• What’s at stake for the Pelicans (26-39): With a victory, New Orleans can ensure itself of at least a .500 mark on its current six-game homestand. Consecutive close defeats in the Smoothie King Center to Memphis and Portland have dropped the Pelicans back below .500 at home overall on the season, at 15-16.

• Williams noted that his Metairie neighborhood has been congested with St. Patrick’s celebrators parking along the streets this weekend. “I do enjoy seeing everybody dressed in their green,” Williams said. “Except on this day, when we’re playing the Celtics.”