The New Orleans Pelicans (20-25) look to complete a season sweep of the Boston Celtics (23-23) on NBATV on Monday night. The Pelicans won 120-115 in overtime on February 21, but the Celtics have been a much better home team (13-7 record) than the Pelicans have been on the road (6-14).
The Celtics are 4-point favorites at most NBA sportsbooks. This is the start to a much-needed seven-game home stretch for Boston. The Pelicans have one road win in the last 40 days, but it was their last trip out to Denver a week ago.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Boston Celtics
Monday, March 29, 2021 – 07:30 PM EDT at TD Garden
Pelicans: Fortunate Comeback
When these teams last met on February 21, it was not a good shooting afternoon for either, as Boston finished under 40% while the Pelicans were under 45%. It was also one of only five games this season where both teams attempted at least 34 free throws, so there were a lot of fouls called.
The Pelicans trailed by 16 at halftime, but a big fourth-quarter rally led to overtime where the Pelicans outscored Boston 12-7. The top two scorers on each team scored at least 25 points with New Orleans’ Brandon Ingram leading all scorers with 33 points.
Ingram has his ups and downs. He recently had back-to-back 30-point games in wins, but he tied his season low with 13 points in a rematch with Denver on Friday. He scored 19 points in a win over Dallas on Saturday but did not hit a three-point shot for the first time in 11 games.
Zion Williamson has been a dominant scorer in his last two games. Against Denver, he scored a season-high 39 points (on 16-of-19 shooting) and almost did it again with 38 points against Dallas a day later. New Orleans is plus-54 on the scoreboard in the last three games with Zion on the court.
Williamson had 13 points in the fourth quarter of that Boston comeback win. He’ll have to continue his offensive proficiency if the Pelicans are to get a rare road win. Williamson is shooting 72.3% from the field in his last four games.
Celtics: The Rare Winning Streak
Boston has won its last two games, the team’s first winning streak since coming out of the All-Star break. Boston split a pair of games in Milwaukee against the Bucks before dominating the fourth quarter in Oklahoma City on Saturday in a 111-94 comeback win. Boston outscored the Thunder 35-14 in the fourth quarter.
The Celtics are only 4-6 out of the All-Star break and rank 24th in Defensive Rating (113.7) over the last 10 games. They have a good test on their hands against the Pelicans’ offense, which ranks No. 7 in Offensive Rating (115.7) in the last 10 games. The Pelicans have also won the rebounding battle in nine of the last 10 games and have the best rebound percentage (55.9%) in the NBA over that time.
Defense is really where the Celtics need to pick up the slack as the offense ranks second in eFG% (56.3%) over these last 10 games. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both scored at least 25 points against the Thunder and they both did so against the Pelicans in February with Brown scoring 32 points that day.
However, the Celtics shot 27% from three-point territory against the Pelicans, one of their worst games this season. It was a struggle against Oklahoma City too, as the Celtics shot 31.6% from three. It was the first time this season Boston won a game after shooting worse than 33.3% from three (now 1-12 record).
Boston has recently started taking a lot more threes. Before the All-Star break, Boston ranked 20th in 3PA% (37.2%), but that ranking has shot up to No. 7 (43.3%) since the break. Boston attempted 47 threes in both games against Milwaukee last week, only trailing the season-high 55 attempts they had against Orlando eight days ago.
Boston is 9-6 ATS as a home favorite while New Orleans is 9-11 ATS on the road this season.
Lonzo Ball has missed the last four games for the Pelicans, and he is questionable to play on Monday night. He is the team’s best three-point shooter too. In what should be a high-scoring game, Boston, which will have Kemba Walker back, has more shooting flexibility with its newfound love of the three. I think the Celtics find a way to edge out the Pelicans at home and cover the spread for my Monday night NBA picks.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.