Boston: 108.3 points/100 possessions (11th)
New Orleans: 104.2 points/100 possessions (23rd)
Boston: 99.4 points allowed/100 possessions (1st)
New Orleans: 102.6 points allowed/100 possessions (6th)
Probable New Orleans starters:
Chris Paul (PG), Marco Bellinelli (SG), Trevor Ariza (SF), David West (F), Emeka Okafor (C)
View from opposing bench: Hornets 24/7
Thumbnail: The Celtics will play their first game sans-Kevin Garnett this season. There will undoubtedly be an adjustment period and the Celtics are lucky they are able to experience these growing pains against a struggling New Orleans team. After cursory look at the Hornets last couple of box scores it looks like there is a few consistencies the Celtics can count on: 1) Chris Paul will be dirty, 2) if given the chance, Marco Belinelli will jack up more than 10 field goal attempts. When Belinelli does this, the game usually ends in a Hornets loss.
WHAT THE HORNETS DO WELL
Defense. The Hornets rank 6th in defensive efficiency, which isn’t surprising when you see that 4/5ths of Hornets starting lineup are known for their defense. David West and Emeka Okafor are both known window washers, Chris Paul is a thief, and Trevor Ariza’s length has been the bane of more than a few superstar’s existence.
Defensive Rebounding. West and Okafor may be known for their above average offensive rebounding, but overall the Hornets rank second in the league in defensive rebounding rate. This actually suits the Celtics just fine as they don’t plan on snagging any offensive boards anyway (they rank dead last in offensive rebounding rate).
WHAT THE HORNETS DO POORLY
Offense. The Hornets either rank near the bottom or middle of the pack in each of the offensive four factors. On the whole, the Hornets are not known for causing turnovers or getting to the free throw line. Aside from West, Okafor and Jason Smith there is not a man on the roster who plays at least 15 minutes and grabs more offensive rebounds than league average.
PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY
Chris Paul and Jarrett Jack. Chris Paul playing against a less than 100% Rajon Rondo or a 100% Nate Robinson speaks for itself. Furthermore, Jack was a constant thorn in the Celtics’ side when he played for Toronto. I cannot wait to see how Avery Bradley does today. Time to put on the big boy pants.
PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY
Marco Belinelli. Dude can fizzle out just as well as he can fill it up. He will likely fizzle against Ray Allen’s defense.
Trevor Ariza. New Orleans is the second team who has tried to make Trevor Ariza a franchise swingman and is the second team to realize that it probably wasn’t a good idea. I like Ariza and what his defense can bring to a team. That said, he doesn’t make me worry.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE TONIGHT
Get One For the Gipper. The Celtics may not have Garnett for this game, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get on Paul Pierce’s back and ride him for a win. Pierce wanted to do that against Detroit but the Palace is a hard place to play- especially if your team is also suffering from intense malaise. It’s New Years Eve and the Celtics should want to celebrate. I know I do.
The Celtics should establish the paint early with Shaquille O’Neal’s ability to overpower Okafor. At the same time, they should run Ray Allen off some screens and watch Belinelli try to chase him around.
It’s New Years Eve and I’m feeling resolute. Celtics 105, Hornets 92