Watch It! – Pelicans at Celtics

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

Get to Know the Pels

A year ago, the New Orleans Pelicans were fighting for the final playoff spot in a loaded Western Conference. Right now? Not so much.

Pretty much every player you’d associate with New Orleans is out with an injury. Anthony Davis? Out (left knee). Ryan Anderson? Out (sports hernia). Tyreke Evans? Out (right knee). Eric Gordon? Out (fractured right ring finger). Jrue Holiday? Out (right inferior orbital wall fracture).

So who will New Orleans throw onto the court tonight? A bunch of guys you probably don’t know much about.

The Pelicans started the fivesome of Tim Frazier, Toney Douglas, Luke Babbitt, Dante Cunningham and Alexis Ajinca Tuesday night in Philadelphia. That group, combined with James Ennis, Kendrick Perkins and Jordan Hamilton off the bench, fell 107-93 at the hands of the 76ers.

West Coast Hangover?

The Celtics returned Monday morning from their 10-day, West Coast road trip. That sounds like a while ago, but as we detailed yesterday, their tanks aren’t exactly full.

Despite Tuesday’s practice, Boston’s players are undoubtedly still adjusting to the Eastern time zone. They probably haven’t slept well since Saturday night in Los Angeles, yet they’re going to play a professional basketball game tonight.

When the C’s take the court tonight, they’ll do so with a little bit of a hangover. The hope is that such will not cause them to drop a game that they should take into the win column.

Must-Win for C’s?

Speaking of which, some might consider this game to be a must-win for the Celtics. Why, you might ask? Let us explain.

Boston is in the midst of a heated battle with the Hawks, Heat and Hornets for the third through sixth seeds in the East. The four teams are all within 1.5 games of each other in the standings.

Following tonight’s game, the C’s will take on the Bucks on Friday, and then their final three games will be against those other three teams: Atlanta, Charlotte and Miami, respectively. Those final four games will be hefty challenges, which puts more emphasis on tonight’s game.

Tonight, Boston will take on a team that is devoid of high-level talent and is not competing for a spot in the Playoffs. The C’s cannot afford to lose this game if they want to secure home-court advantage in the first round.

Filling in for Turner

The Celtics will shoot for tonight’s win without the services of Evan Turner. Turner will miss his first game of the season with a left eye injury.

It would be difficult to overstate how important Turner has been to the Celtics this season. He has been great all year while spending time at every position outside of center. He is one of Boston’s primary ball handlers and offensive playmakers, and he can defend multiple positions.

Filling his void will be a tough task for this Celtics team. In all likelihood, Terry Rozier who has played well of late, will continue to see substantial playing time. Additionally, we may see more traditional lineups from the Celtics tonight. Tyler Zeller will likely see more minutes at center, which will allow guys like Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk to play alongside him at power forward.

Frazier’s Play with New Orleans

Tim Frazier has been on Boston’s radar for some time now. He spent training camp with the C’s in 2014 and has played multiple seasons with Maine Red Claws. Right now, however, he’s the starting point guard of the New Orleans Pelicans.

Frazier has been playing very strong basketball since being acquired by New Orleans in mid-March. He has played 11 games with the Pelicans and scored during double-figures in 10 of them. He carries averages of 13.5 points, 6.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game with New Orleans into tonight’s game.

Those are the type of numbers that turn you into a permanent NBA player, rather than one who bounces around the league on 10-day contracts. Frazier is proving to everyone that he is a legitimate NBA player.


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