Zion Williamson and the Pelicans will try to bounce back from a tough loss Friday night as they host the Boston Celtics. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire)
- The Boston Celtics are in New Orleans to take on the Pelicans Sunday
- NOLA blew a lead in historic fashion last time out; C’s haven’t won back-to-back in 13 games
- Check the odds, analysis and betting preview below
Two teams battling inconsistency try to straighten things out Sunday afternoon, as the New Orleans Pelicans host the Boston Celtics.
Boston has not been able to string together consecutive wins over their last 13 games, and they’ve fallen into a pile of East teams in a tier below the 76ers and Nets.
NOLA, meanwhile is trying to rebound after an epic collapse last time out. That’s led to sportsbooks making the so-so Celtics a 2.5-point road favorite in this one.
Celtics vs Pelicans Odds
|Boston Celtics||-2.5 (-110)||-138||Ov 233 (-110)|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+2.5 (-110)||+118||Un 233 (-110)|
Odds from FanDuel taken February 20. Tip-off is Sunday at 3:30pm ET
Can the C’s Start Climbing?
Since losing Marcus Smart to a calf injury in a January 31 loss to the LA Lakers, the Celtics have struggled with consistency, losing that game en route to a 5-7 mark over their next dozen. Smart is closing in on a return towards the end of the month, and missing the little things he brings to the table have played a factor in this stretch of up-and-down play.
We got our shot at redemption against the Hawks with a 121-109 victory, as Kemba Walker lead the way for us with 28 points. pic.twitter.com/zYGKZeUyAH
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 20, 2021
One encouraging sign was Kemba Walker dropping a season-high 28 in a win over the Hawks last time out. Of course, he’s still battling a wonky knee, which may never be 100% this season. Walker was forced sit out the previous game because of the knee. Boston has won three of the last four contests when he has played.
Walker’s play is the needed jolt to supplement the dynamic core of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tatum, despite admitting COVID has weakened his breathing even a month after returning to the lineup, is still averaging 25.8 points a game, while adding a 4.8 assists.
.@jaytatum0 is one of only five NBA players averaging at least 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 14, 2021
Brown is still playing at an all-star level, though he’s cooled some in the last 10 games, averaging 18.4 points a contest and shooting 36% from the floor.
Because of their recent struggles, Boston is in fourth in the East at 15-14, but on shaky ground. Currently, only three games separate the fourth-place Celtics and the 11th-place Atlanta Hawks.
NOLA Needs a Bounce Back
While Boston is trying to keep the ship straight, New Orleans hit a monster ice berg and hit rock bottom Friday night. The Pelicans looked like gangbusters through three quarters against the Phoenix Suns, carrying an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter, scoring 102 points in 36 minutes.
And somehow, they were on the back end of a 132-114 evisceration by the Suns. The 18-point loss was the largest L taken in the shot clock era for a team that entered the fourth quarter leading by double digits.
“I know this place.”
Chris Paul returns to New Orleans and closes out Pelicans in #Suns 132-114 win Friday night.
“In that fourth quarter, it was a work of art.” Devin Booker. pic.twitter.com/q7oObpuyQu
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) February 20, 2021
At 12-17, 12th in the ultra competitive West, Stan Van Gundy’s crew has disappointed. Despite a young roster featuring true talents in Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, they’re on the verge of a sunken season if they can’t turn things around soon. The Pels have lost five of their last six, and have surrendered a whopping 127.6 points a game. No wonder they’re 24th in points allowed per game, at over 115 a contest.
Cool things are happening too fast for us to tweet but OMGGGG pic.twitter.com/a35tDrPy50
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 20, 2021
Still, the development of Zion is a major positive. He’s averaging 25 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists a game, and is a beast inside, shooting 62% from the field. The Pelicans are sixth in the NBA in paint scoring, potting better than 51 points a game. If they are to break their slump, they’ll have to dominate the paint.
What’s the Best Bet?
This game will probably be decided by 3-point shooting. The Celtics rank ninth in the NBA at a 37.7% clip. Perhaps Brown, shooting it at better than 41% from distance this season, gets back into his groove. New Orleans is 29th in the defending the arc, letting teams shoot a blistering 39.8%.
And yet, inconsistency on both sides makes this a volatile pick. So let’s assume Boston’s sixth-rated points allowed defense travels, and meshes well with Boston’s 21st-ranked and NOLA’s 23rd-ranked pace of play. It’s close, but I think they stay below the total.
The pick: UNDER 233 points (-110)
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.