New Orleans at Boston
Time: 6:30 PM CT (NBA TV)
Spread: BOS -5.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
Boston maintains a four-game lead on the Toronto Raptors for the Atlantic Division crown. Toronto has dropped two-straight, so the time for Boston to heat back up is now.
Boston will host the New Orleans Pelicans as 5.5-point favorites at 6:30 PM (CT) on NBA TV. The over/under is set at 214 according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
Crucial in replacing the injured Gordon Hayward has been rookie Jayson Tatum and second-year swingman Jaylen Brown, who rank No. 3 and No. 2, respectively, on the team in scoring.
Tatum has been nothing short of sensational and is averaging 13.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in 31 minutes a night. Brown has improved nearly every facet of his game and is good for 14.2 points and 1.3 steals per night.
But perhaps the biggest difference maker has been franchise player Kyrie Irving. Irving was acquired at the “low” cost of Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder from the Cleveland Cavs this past offseason, and he is playing the best and most efficient basketball of his NBA career. The Flat Earther has averaged nearly 24 points per game and five assists per night while posting a team-high PER of 24.1. Along with
Irving’s career year has come one from veteran Al Horford, who has developed into one of the league’s most effective high-post passers. Horford leads the team in assists at 5.3 per game—and he is shooting a blistering 42 percent from three-point range while connecting on 51.9 percent of his field goals overall.
Outside of these highly effective four players, has been the strong play of a cast of role players: Marcus Smart is still one of the league’s best defenders, and Marcus Morris seems to have found a home in Boston, replacing the colossal bust that was?Jared Sullinger several seasons ago.
Second-Year guard Terry Rozier has developed nicely in his second season, and despite his shooting struggles (40 percent field goals) has looked as though he will eventually be a very integral part of the team.
In 23 minutes a night, Rozier makes his impact known, though his 9.3 points per game may seem humble. The fact remains, Brad Stevens simply knows best how to milk the talent of his roster, and the disaster that Hayward incurred is largely forgotten by a Celtics’ fanbase thinking “title” no matter the cost.
The Pelicans most recently defeated the New York Knicks. New Orleans has won three of its past five games, and though many expected more than 22-20 from New Orleans, all things considered, this team is about where it belongs.
New Orleans, really, is an assortment of talent that hardly seems to click like things do for D’Antoni’s Rockets. Despite having two of the league’s premier big men in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, the Pelicans have plodded around .500 simply because the team lacks complementary parts at nearly all other positions.?Combo guard Jrue Holiday has been too quiet to comprise a realistic “Big Three” as New Orleans hoped he would, and though his play has been solid, it has been nevertheless very unspectacular.
Cousins and Davis have thrived, but the Pelicans lack scoring on the perimeter and really have no starting-caliber small forward at all. Instead, the team has used E’Twaun Moore and Holiday often on the wing, but neither brings the defensive presence required to stop the big bodies that the team encounters so frequently.
That leaves Davis and Cousins scrambling to do so, and the result often is that one or both end up in foul trouble. When teams can find a way to even remove one of those two stars (by attacking the rim), it renders New Orleans in a world of trouble simply because the team really is a two-man squad.
One hates to break the argument down to matters so simple, but the Cousins experiment will likely end a relative failure, if only because expectations were simply too high to begin with.
In some senses, it is an exciting treat to see two gifted big men like the Kentucky bigs playing together, but that does not mean the formula is necessarily that of what it takes to build a contending team. Even if New Orleans could re-sign Cousins, adding the right pieces around him and Davis, and Holiday, is a monumental challenge to Dell Demps, and one that the GM has yet to come close to solving.