Celtics vs. Pelicans NBA Pick
The surging Boston Celtics visit Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night.
Boston Celtics (30-14) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (17-29)
Sunday, January 26 at 6:00 PM ET (ESPN), Smoothie King Center
Celtics Take Down Magic Without Tatum
Kemba Walker helped the Celtics erase a 16-point 1st half deficit to rally past the Magic 109-98 in Orlando last Friday.
Walker finished with 37 points and Gordon Hayward had 22 for a Celtics team that missed Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Enes Kanter. Daniel Theis stepped up for Kanter and added 16 points and the bench players were aggressive and effective on defense.
The Celtics held the Magic to just 14 of 43 shooting (32.6 percent) in the second half with only six assists on those 14 baskets.
Zion Shows His Potential
Zion Williamson exploded for 17 points in the 4th quarter of his NBA debut against the Spurs last Wednesday. He finished with 22 points and seven rebounds in only 18 minutes but he Spurs withstood a late rally and the Pelicans lost the game 121-117.
The 22 points from Williamson are the most by a Pelicans player in his debut in franchise history. Anthony Davis held the previous record with 21 points.
Williamson also became the first player in league history to go 4-for-4 (or better) from 3-point range in his NBA debut. His 22 points in 18 minutes are the most points in under 20 minutes in a player’s debut from 1954-55 (the start of the shot-clock era).
The 17 straight points that Williamson scored in 3:29 minutes in the 4th quarter it’s tied for the most points in a single quarter in a player’s first career game over the last 20 seasons.
If Williamson keeps hitting long-range shots he can make defenses pay. Many see Williamson as the top prospect since LeBron James and that’s a lot of pressure for someone his age.
The first few games are crucial for a player because there’s a lot of noise with social media. This is especially true for the 19-year-old, 280-pound phenom. Williamson hit his four 3-point shots in a span of 2:34 in the 4th quarter. It is worth noting that he never made more than three 3-pointers in a game at Duke.
He played well in his second NBA game as well, scoring 15 points on 7 of 9 shooting. He also added six rebounds, one block and one steal in 21 minutes but once again the Pelicans lost, this time 113-106 at home against the Nuggets last Friday. Zion had a game-high +16. His 75.0 percent field goal percentage is the best through two games by anyone in the shot-clock era (min. 20 field goal attempts).
This is a telling stat for the Pelicans in the last two games:
– With Zion Williamson on the floor (39 minutes): +19
– With Zion Williamson off the floor (57 minutes): -30
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are questionable for Sunday and Enes Kanter will miss the game because of his hip injury. Not having Kanter (plus-2.2 Defensive Box Plus/Minus) is a significant disadvantage for the Celtics considering that he could have helped slow down Zion Williamson.
Williamson will likely see more minutes and the Pelicans will get more used to him as the games pass. The Pelicans have lost their last two games by a combined total of 11 points. The Celtics are on a roll but the Pelicans are at home and they’re the healthier team. The odds are not out yet but I like Pelicans to cover.