BOSTON CELTICS AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANSMonday, Nov. 26 (7 p.m.)
Why it’s on the list
At least two of the most memorable moments of Anthony Davis’ NBA career have come in matchups vs. Boston, starting with a game-winning putback score in his rookie season. Last season, his third-best scoring night came at TD Garden in January, when he racked up 45 points (he also had a 53-point eruption vs. Phoenix and 48 at New York).
Beyond Davis’ knack for coming up big against the Celtics, recent New Orleans-Boston matchups have featured a considerable amount of other young talent on both rosters. The Celtics are the consensus favorite to win the Eastern Conference in ’18-19 and nearly did so ahead of schedule this spring, partly due to the emergence of Jayson Tatum, who’s still only 20 years old, as well as Jaylen Brown, 21; and Terry Rozier, 24. On the New Orleans side, Davis is just 25, while fellow prominent Pelicans frontcourt players Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle are 27 and 23, respectively. Along with acquiring Randle, New Orleans got younger this summer by signing point guard Elfrid Payton, 24.
After starting last season 22-4, Boston will try to match that fantastic beginning in ’18-19. Meanwhile, New Orleans hopes to produce a better pre-Christmas record than its 17-16 mark from ’17-18.
Where it falls on the New Orleans schedule
The Pelicans will be coming off a three-game Thanksgiving week road trip, an annual late-November occurrence due to the Bayou Classic always being staged in the Superdome two days after Turkey Day. New Orleans will try to capitalize on a seven-game stretch from Nov. 21 through Dec. 2 in which every opponent is from the East. The Pelicans did exactly that in ’17-18, going 21-9 against the East, which was better than every West team other than Houston (24-6) and Golden State (24-6).
What’s new in Boston
After Gordon Hayward missed all but the first five minutes of the regular season and Kyrie Irving was sidelined for the entire playoffs, the most positive “change” for the Celtics should be the healthy availability of two of their best players and offensive threats. Aside from the return of those key cogs, Boston did not make any major roster additions. The Celtics re-signed key rotation players Aron Baynes and Marcus Smart.
Other 2018-19 games between these two teams
Monday, Dec. 10, New Orleans at Boston (NBA TV)