The Celtics played the Pelicans in New Orleans tonight and were without a litany of players, including their star point guard Kyrie Irving. When asked before the game, Brad Stevens said he thought that Kyrie could have gone tonight had the situation called for it, but instead they’ll wait until his ailing left knee is 100% ready. Stevens also stated that Jaylen Brown no longer had any headaches and he’d be moving forward in the NBA’s concussion protocol- a real relief for both Jaylen and the team.
With all of this in mind, and with the resulting lineup choices looking slim, it wasn’t a great night to play against one of the best players in the world. The Celtics had no answer for Anthony Davis’ dominance; while Al Horford, conversely, had another off night in which he made just 3 of his 11 attempts from the field.
The Celtics stayed afloat during the first half thanks to aggressive play from Mook, Moose, and Jayson Tatum; but the Pelicans proved too consistent. At one point in the second quarter they commanded a game-high 23 point lead – which prompted me and half of Mass. to think “I left the party for this???”-
The Celtics lost by a Final Score of 109-88. Let’s get into it…
The Game Flow
Despite having 5 starting-caliber players on their bench due to injury (seriously, think of the lineup we’re being deprived of: Theis, Hayward, Brown, Smart, Irving- that’d be INCREDIBLY fun to watch), the Celtics came out hot in the first quarter. Marcus Morris’ fall-away made it 8-0 to start and Pelicans fans quickly became complacent while standing, waiting for their team to score before they took their seats. It would have been great if the Celtics could have kept the Pelicans scoreless to start the game a little bit longer – but we’d have to take the little victories where we could get them tonight, and an 8-0 start was funny while it lasted.
In hindsight, it didn’t last very long, though. The Pelicans answered the Celtics start with an 8-2 run of their own, topped with a Rajon Rondo to Anthony Davis alley-oop that took the lead. Rondo was dishing it out all night, as this was just one of his game high eleven assists. The Pelicans eventually made it 13-10 and had made 5 of their last 6 shots by running the floor, therefore setting the pace of the game. The first quarter ended with the Celtics in the lead, 28-20, thanks mainly to Mook (11 pts) and an extra-aggressive Jayson Tatum’s 8 points. With Jaylen Brown still recovering from his concussion, Jayson is an even more essential wing for our team, and he filled the role nicely tonight – more on him later, though.
If you want to talk about setting the tone for the game, look no further than Anthony Davis. He scored exactly half of his team’s points in the first quarter and continued that on into the second and beyond. Davis sized up each defender tonight and consistently displayed the type of All-World athleticism that’s made his name revered in NBA circles for well over half a decade now. It would have been awesome to watch if it weren’t against the team that I love.
The Moose aka Greg aka Greg Monroe did well tonight (by his new/incredibly low standards) and grabbed a few offensive rebounds to keep the possession alive during the second quarter. Second chance points were CLUTCH considering the Pelicans caught fire and began hitting the majority of their shots.
The Celtics slim-to-none offensive lineups were pressured to score nearly every trip since their defense allowed the Pelicans to score on over half of their possessions. So I won’t lie, I thought it was a good omen when Al Horford drained a deep 2 over former Celtic draftee E.Moore’s head. The shot took the lead while the shot clock expired and under two minutes remained in the half. Boston entered halftime with the lead 49-47, but this was one of the last time Boston fans could find much joy in tonight’s game.
The Pelicans shot 50% for the game, and only missed on rare occasion during the second half. They took a 23 point lead at one point during the third quarter, and the Celtics clearly let off the gas a bit down the stretch as a result. That’s not something you usually see from Brad Stevens’ coached teams, but for some reason (health, lack of practice) tonight it seemed accepted, to a point. After leading following each of the last two quarters, the Celtics went into the fourth quarter down 76-82.
Honestly, the only truly embarrassing moment for the Celtics came when Abdel Nader was rewarded 4 shots from the FT line (thanks to a Pelican defender running under his feet during a 3PA)- AND PROCEEDING TO MISS ALL FOUR. That was rough, man. Take a lap.
Jayson Tatum did his best to will the Celtics to victory, and his third quarter was, in fact, his last successful quarter; but his game could only bring the squad so far. Jay-Tay chipped in 23 points on 9 of 14 shooting from the field, but inexplicably shot just once more during the fourth quarter. The Pelicans went on another run of their own, and Anthony Davis made a string of plays that single-handedly removed all the spirit from Boston’s fans about midway through the quarter.
It was at this time Davis knew the game was in hand and he decided to start tooling with his defender, this time being Al Horford (could have been anybody), at the top of the key. Davis assessed the defender in front of him and correctly assumed he could use the crossover to beat him. AD crossed to the right then blew by him with a take to the left, then finished at the rim with ease. On the following possession, the Celtics missed their shot attempt, and Anthony Davis came flying in like a bat out of hell, reaching over Marcus Morris for the rebound. In both of these cases he DWARFED our guys that stand damn near 7 feet tall. Davis finished with 34 points on 14 of 24 shooting from the field to go along with 11 rebounds.
The Celtics shot just 40% from the field and gave up 54 points in the paint over the course of their night. They lost by a final score of 108-89.
Look at Moose with the quick hands and the finish! Like I said above, take the little victories where you can get them tonight, guys…
Despite the ugly play from the squad tonight, there were actually a fair amount of good looking plays by the guys. Here’s a purrty one from Jayson Tatum:
Here’s a beautiful step-back by Rozier.