The two teams last met at Smoothie King Center, where the Celtics coughed up a 24-point lead and lost 120-115 in overtime to the Pelicans. That was over a month ago on February 21, and a lot has changed since then.
Marcus Smart is back in the lineup for the Boston Celtics. Their last win was a 111-94 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday, in which they trailed 80-76 at the start of the fourth quarter. It took a 35-14 scoring binge for the Celtics to finally rid themselves of one of the Western Conference’s bottom dwellers.
The New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Dallas Mavericks 112-103 on Saturday, with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis sidelined. Zion Williamson’s 38 points, five rebounds and six assists helped overcome the absence of starting guard Lonzo Ball and backup big man Jaxson Hayes.
Fixture - New Orleans Pelicans vs Boston Celtics | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Monday, March 29th, 7:30 PM ET (Tuesday, March 30th, 5:00 AM IST)
Venue - TD Garden, Boston, MA
New Orleans Pelicans Preview
For the fifth straight game, the New Orleans Pelicans could miss Lonzo Ball’s services due to a right hip flexor strain. If he's unable to go against the Boston Celtics, Nickeil Alexander-Walker will once again take his spot as a starter.
The New Orleans Pelicans have won three of their last four games, including a quality win against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. While they are not yet within reach of a postseason appearance, they have made some strides defensively.
Since March 21, they have been 22nd in the league in defensive rating (113.6), which is still in the lower half of the NBA’s hierarchy but an improvement nonetheless. Overall, they are 28th (115.9) in the category this season, which helps explain their 20-25 record despite a top 7 offensive rating (115.9).
On Monday, the New Orleans Pelicans will have to be sharp on both ends of the floor as the Boston Celtics have not forgotten their last encounter.
Key Player - Zion Williamson
It was an eventful weekend for Zion Williamson. He had a career-high 39 points against the Denver Nuggets on Friday. Though it came in a 113-108 loss (the Nuggets avenged their setback to the New Orleans Pelicans days earlier), it highlighted how dangerous the first-time All-Star can be when unleashed.
He scored at least 30 points in three of his last four games and averaged an astounding 38.5 points a game over the weekend.
During that four-game stretch for the New Orleans Pelicans, Williamson shot an insane 72.3 percent from the field and averaged 33.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.
As much as the Boston Celtics would like some payback, they will have to contend with the hot-shooting New Orleans Pelicans forward, who is a far better player now than when they last met.
New Orleans Pelicans Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Nickeil Alexander-Walker l Shooting Guard - Eric Bledsoe l Small Forward - Brandon Ingram l Power Forward - Zion Williamson l Center - Steven Adams
Boston Celtics Preview
The Boston Celtics will be playing at home in front of a few fans for the first time this season. It’s a refreshing boost for the home team, who needs a spark to reignite their bid to challenge for the title. This will mark the first of a seven-game homestand that will hopefully inspire coach Brad Stevens’ team to play with a sense of urgency.
Despite winning their last two games, the Boston Celtics have lost six of their last 10 games and are currently 23-23 in the standings. The next set of games (including the New Orleans Pelicans game) will be crucial as it is an opportunity for them to move up and secure the No. 4 spot occupied by the New York Knicks, who are just two games ahead of them.
The Celtics should find it easier to convert their shots since the New Orleans Pelicans have trouble keeping opponents from scoring.
The pressure will be on the Boston Celtics’ defense, which will have to stop one of the best offensive teams in the league.
Key Player - Kemba Walker
As good as the Boston Celtics’ two stars (Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown) are, many agree that it is the play of Kemba Walker that can ultimately put them over the top.
The four-time All-Star has not been his usual self this season after coming off stem cell treatment in the offseason. His numbers this campaign are not far from his career stats, but he is shooting less than 40 percent from the field, which has not happened since the 2014-15 season.
The 6-foot Boston Celtics guard has been plagued by poor shot selection and decision-making, two qualities that shouldn’t be associated with a team’s floor general.
In his last 10 games, Walker averaged 16.7 points and 4.9 assists while shooting 41.2 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from three.
The Boston Celtics' 10-year veteran will be up against the New Orleans Pelicans’ Eric Bledsoe.
Boston Celtics Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Kemba Walker l Shooting Guard - Marcus Smart l Small Forward - Jaylen Brown l Power Forward - Jayson Tatum l Center - Robert Williams III
Pelicans vs Boston Celtics Match Prediction
With fans now allowed in the stands at TD Garden, the Boston Celtics will be buoyed by the sound of a few spectators cheering them on. However, they face a New Orleans Pelicans side who have stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
While Jaylon Brown and Brandon Ingram will probably cancel each other out, it’s the Jayson Tatum-Zion Williamson battle that will be the one to watch. These two could determine the outcome of the ballgame.
Based on last weekend’s performances, the New Orleans Pelicans power forward could still be on fire and will likely overpower the Boston Celtics All-Star.
We expect the visitors to defeat the home team in this rematch.
Where to watch Pelicans vs Celtics
The Boston Celtics vs New Orleans Pelicans game will be shown nationally by NBA TV and locally by FOX Sports New Orleans and NBC Sports Boston. International audiences can watch the game live on NBA League Pass.