The Pelicans have been far from dominant lately, but they should be able to outmuscle the Celtics on their way to a win. Let's examine the NBA odds for tonight's game in Boston.
At time of writing, the Pelicans were favored by 4.5 points in Boston, with one or two books setting a line of 5 (for those wanting action on the underdogs).
We're not expecting a tight defensive struggle, and neither are NBA odds makers. They've quoted a total of 203.5 points for now, which is no surprise given the fact both teams are in the bottom 10 in the NBA in points allowed per game.
The Celtics were busy this past week, as they were involved in trade discussions that ultimately ended in them receiving Tayshaun Prince and Austin Rivers in a three-team deal with Memphis and New Orleans. Jeff Green will be sent to the the Grizzlies in exchange, with the deal set to be finalized later on Monday.
In terms of results, Boston hasn't been performing too well, and the constant trade speculation can't be helping much. The Celtics have dropped five of their last six and are 2-9 over their past 11 contests overall. They're now 12-23 overall this season.
We know Boston is building for the future, so we can consider this season best utilized for developing their best young assets, such as Jared Sullinger, Marcus Smart and the recently returned James Young. This is a very young team, and it's going to be up to head coach Brad Stevens to determine which guys really have staying power in this league. Jae Crowder, who came to town in the Rajon Rondo trade, has done some nice things since arriving, too, but overall this team has been mighty hard to trust handicapping-wise.
New Orleans Pelicans
Hoping to avoid a third straight loss, the Pelicans came out with a lot of energy this past Friday night. They jumped on the Grizzlies early and held on for a 106-95 win at home. New Orleans shot 45.7 percent overall, 50.0 percent from beyond the arc and 84.6 percent from the charity stripe.
Whenever you have four different players who scored 20+ points, you know you're in a good spot. Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Ryan Anderson all came through with great scoring nights in the win over Memphis. If New Orleans is able to be anywhere near as efficient offensively tonight, they should have a field day against Boston's shaky defense.
The Pelicans haven't exactly been all that good defensively themselves, surrendering an average of 100.8 points per contest, which ranks them 20th in the league. However, they've got one of the most dominant bigs in the NBA on their side in Davis, and both Evans and Holiday have been playing great basketball too. Throw in a sharp-shooting big like Anderson off the bench and a good defensive center like Omer Asik, and you can see why New Orleans fans are optimistic for the future.
As we've talked about in the past, it's really tough to get a good read on the Celtics. They tend to show up and put up a fight when you least expect it.
As such, we feel more comfortable backing New Orleans in this spot, especially since they'll have the two (probably even three) best players on the court in Davis, Evans and Holiday. Davis especially should have a field day, considering Boston has been easily exposed in terms of frontcourt defense all season long.
With our NBA picks for a short slate of games this Monday night, we'll be recommending that readers add the Pelicans to their list. They just recorded a confidence-boosting win over the Grizzlies and should be able to carry over that momentum against a weaker team in Boston.
Free NBA Pick: New Orleans Pelicans -4.5 at The Greek