By MyFM's Jake Archer - The Celtics are still undermanned and trying to tread water as the Eastern Conference's #2 seed. On Friday night, they picked up a win in Orlando over a bad Magic team but on Sunday, they got smoked by the Pelicans and Anthony Davis to end the road trip on a sour note.
In Orlando, the Celtics got off to a strong start behind a lock down defense. They were able to hold Orlando to just 16 points in the first quarter and 15 in the second to take a 49-31 lead into halftime. Boston expanded that lead to 24 early in the second half but the Magic weren't done.
Orlando cut the lead to 14 early in the fourth quarter against the Celtics bench and Brad Stevens had to go back to his starters for the final nine minutes of the game to close it out. The Magic never got to within less than seven, which they did with just 41 seconds remaining, but Boston still couldn't be very happy with how they finished the game. Despite picking up a 92-83 victory, they made only one field goal in the final seven and a half minutes. It's good that they played defense the way that they did because they only shot 38.7% from the field. Orlando struggled shooting as well and also got outrebounded 55-40. The C's came up with 20 second chance points.
The Celtics were without Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown again but the Magic were missing Aaron Gordon as well. Terry Rozier and Greg Monroe led the way for the C's with 17 points apiece. Al Horford returned from illness and gave Boston 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists and a steal. Shane Larkin and Abdel Nader also were in double digits for the Celtics.
DJ Augustin and Jonathon Simmons paced the Magic with 13 points each. The win gave Boston a 3-1 advantage in the season series against the Magic.
On Sunday night, the Celtics were set to finish up their quick two-game road trip in New Orleans against the Pelicans. They appeared for the first three quarters, but then vanished and got blown out by a score of 108-89. Of course, the Pelicans have not been as bad as they usually are and their All Star forward Anthony Davis has elevated to an MVP-like level, but this is still an embarrassing defeat.
After leading 28-20 going into the second and 49-47 heading into halftime, the Celtics couldn't hold on in the second half. The Pelicans hit their stride and at one point had a 22-6 fourth quarter run to pull away with the win. Al Horford did an absolutely abysmal job guarding Davis, (a player the Celtics reportedly covet) who seemed to get whatever he wanted all night. Davis filled up the stat sheet with 34 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block. E'Twaun Moore, Nikola Mirotic and Cheick Diallo were his chief helpers as they all registered in double figures for points.
This Pelicans team that lost DeMarcus Cousins for the season and is starting Emeka Okafor is actually in playoff contention. The win tied them for the fifth seed in the West with San Antonio and Utah in what is an extrememly tight race for the postseason. After having dropped four of five, they needed this one badly and they got it. They certainly showed why they are a formidable opponent for anyone with their ability to score on a very good defense. The Celtics offense on the other hand, is not what you would call elite and they are struggling without some of their best players.
Kyrie Irving was listed as questionable before the game but did not go. Boston was also without Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart again. They got 23 from Jayson Tatum, but Marcus Morris, Greg Monroe and Rozier were the only other scorers in double digits. The loss drops the C's to 47-23 and they will host the streaking Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.