The Boston Celtics try to rebound after getting waxed by the Houston Rockets last night, however the New Orleans Hornets have other plans in mind for the Celtics.
If I were to
guarantee you that the high flying Rockets would score only 93 points against
the Celtics last night, you probably would have plunked down more than your
average unit wager on the Green.
However, it was the Celtics who succumbed to a smothering defense and
were beaten and battered at both ends of the floor in a 93-77 drubbing against
the Rockets. Meanwhile, the New Orleans
Hornets have just been laying in wait since their 100-95 win over the Phoenix
Suns on Wednesday night.
Celtics (48-19 SU, 30-34-3 ATS) now have 3 consecutive road losses while back to
back affairs this late in the season is not what the creaky bones of Pierce,
Garnett and Ray Allen need especially on the highway. But the NBA has a grueling schedule and no
team is exempt.
The only positive thing(s)
about last night’s humiliation in Houston is that coach Doc Rivers had the good
sense not to try and catch a train that had already left the station (and in
addition, this space predicted a low scoring affair and advised a play on the
under 197). He rested his starters in
the 4th quarter of a game that was well out of reach in preparation
for tonight’s meeting with the Hornets at the New Orleans Arena.
Orleans Hornets (40-30 SU, 34-33-3 ATS) finish off a 5 game homestand where
they have secured victories over the Mavericks, Kings and Suns while bowing
only to the rejuvenated Nuggets. Chris
Paul is the straw that stirs the drink in Cajun country and his unfriendly
competition with Celtics point guard extraordinaire will be fun to watch.
However, Hornets center Emeka Okafor could
play a pivotal role as he did in their only meeting of the season with the
Celtics when he pulled down 13 boards to go along with 18 points and 3 blocked
shots. The Hornets went on to steal that
game on New Year’s Eve day in an 83-81 nail biter at the Garden.
indeed another example of the Celtics playing tough defense but not being able
to score more than their opponent, similar to last night when they limited
Houston to 12 points below their average yet still lost the game. The Celtics are slumping and their propensity
to lose the second leg of back to back affairs is alarming as they have now
lost the last four times on the back end of a back to backer.
are also a team without the big man in the middle, Shaquille O’Neal. Even if Shaq does get the green light from
the team doctors and suits up, he does so with very limited practice and
without playing in anger for well over a month.
Perhaps of even more consequence is the play of slumping point guard
Rajon Rondo. It isn’t surprising to note
that as he goes, so go the Celtics.
Rondo is a mind numbingly low 13% from the field over his last 4 games
and the assists which he doled out so effortlessly throughout the season has
taken a precipitous dip as well. He has
not recorded double digit assists in 7 straight games despite a season average
of 11.8 assists/game.
are 24-10 at home this season straight up and with the NBA odds makers making this
game virtually a pick, we don’t have to concern ourselves with a point spread
cover. The Celtics are tired, slumping
and emotionally defeated after last night’s blowout loss to the Rockets.
If you’re inclined to hang your hat on the
fact that coach Doc rested his starters in the 4th quarter, look no
further than Sunday’s game against Milwaukee when the team suffocated the Bucks
87-56. It was in that game that Doc
Rivers rested his starters in the 4th in anticipation of battling
the Nets the following evening. The
Celtics bombed in Jersey, dropping an 88-79 decision as 5 ½ point road
favorites. Why should tonight be any
different against a team that is vastly superior to the Nets?
My Pick: I’ll take New Orleans +1.