WHO: Celtics (23-23) vs. Pelicans (20-25)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: TD Garden
RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub
TV: NBC Sports Boston/NBATV
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
G: Kemba Walker
G: Evan Fournier
SF: Marcus Smart
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Robert Williams III
G: Eric Bledsoe
G: Nickeil Alexander-Walker
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Zion Williamson
C: Steven Adams
The Boston Celtics (23-23, 22-24 ATS) debut 2,300 fans and Evan Fournier (COVID protocol) against the Pelicans (20-25, 21-24 ATS) at 7:30 EST to begin a rare seven-game home stand after playing 20 home and 26 road games.
Jaylen Brown (hip contusion) is out, along with Semi Ojeleye (side strain), Romeo Langford (COVID protocol) and Tristan Thompson (COVID protocol).
Lonzo Ball (hip) and Jaxon Hayes (wrist) are questionable for New Orleans.
According to the online sports book Betonline.ag, the Celtics are 2.0 point favorites.
- Celtics vs. Pelicans spread: Celtics -2
- Celtics vs. Pelicans over-under: 229.5 points
- Celtics vs. Pelicans money line: Celtics -138, Pelicans +118
Evan Fournier’s arrival will be all the more welcome with Brown continuing to pile up ailments. Part of the appeal of acquiring Fournier at the trade deadline was allowing Jayson Tatum and Brown to rest for the Celtics when needed, and be able to be replaced by a playmaker rather than more limited offensive personnel like Semi Ojeleye and Grant Williams.
Fournier posted a career high 20.6 assist percentage with the Magic this season, only exceeded by Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart among current Celtics. He’ll comfortably supplement the playmaking responsibilities Brown and Tatum provide, while hitting over 40% of his pull-up threes. He posted 0.95 points per possession in the pick-and-roll (70th percentile) for the second straight season, while ranking in the 79th percentile in transition.
He shoots 36% on catch-and-shoot threes and 48% on pull-up twos. He finishes 58% at the basket and hit 50% of his wide open threes this year, better than Boston’s previous bests on the wing in Jeff Teague (48%) and Williams (44%).
The Pelicans are the fifth best offense and fifth worst defense in the NBA in terms of points per game. Boston stuck with New Orleans through three quarters in February, holding the Pelicans under 30 points in each before losing the fourth 34-21 and collapsing in overtime. Robert Williams III played admirable minutes into overtime, but Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram scored 61 points while generating 16 free throws to lead the win. Josh Hart hampered Tatum defensively throughout the second half.
New Orleans generates the third-most free throws in the NBA, over 25 per game, while the Celtics rank 18th and 27th in the month of March. Fournier will help close that gap with his 4.7 free throw attempts per game. Boston is already the better three-point shooting team of the two sides by two percentage points.
Boston will miss Thompson and Brown on Williamson, who shot 3-of-8 against the pair and was held to four points in the first half. Williams III blocked Williamson in overtime at the rim and Thompson yielded a late and-one inside that forced overtime. The Celtics have enough scoring personnel to win, but a shootout will go down to the wire again and Williams III will need to avoid foul trouble with only Grant, Mo Wagner and Luke Kornet behind him.
Boston 126, New Orleans 125 (21–18, 15-21 ATS)