On Monday night the Boston Celtics subdued the New Orleans Pelicans for the second time in two weeks. Despite 41 points from Anthony Davis, the Pelicans could not compete against a Celtics’ starting unit that was absent two of its biggest guns, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, leaving the heavy lifting to Terry Rozier and Daniel Theis in their stead. Add to that, Gordon Hayward (illness) and Aron Baynes (ankle) were also MIA which clearly illustrates how far this team has come in a matter of weeks. When the final buzzer echoed throughout the Garden, the Celtics had delivered a 113-100 beatdown of Davis and the boys on the bayou.
The best betting sites, found all in one place at Sportsbook Review, tagged the Green as 2 ½ point favorites, down from the original 6 ½ before the information became available that the Celtics would be without some of its biggest stars. And lest we forget, this latest victory came hot on the heels of a spectacular 56-point win over the Bulls on Saturday, the largest margin of victory in the team’s history.
The box score for Monday’s win over New Orleans will tell you that Marcus Morris had a brilliant season-high 31-point performance on 66 percent shooting while Anthony Davis led all scorers and donned his Superman cape yet again. But what it won’t tell us is what Davis was thinking as he sank shot after shot yet had no Robin to his Batman, let alone a legion of superheroes at his side. Okay, so maybe the Celtics aren’t comprised of game-changing All-Stars and caped crusaders but Kyrie Irving certainly qualifies and Jayson Tatum is on his way. The Pelicans are a bad team that Davis makes mediocre but how long do you think it would take for Davis to run, not walk, into the lovin’ arms of the Boston Celtics? Blink of an eye, maybe? Yeah, you’re right, too long.
Boston is a solid, although unspectacular, 16-10 on the season but the trials and tribulations they endured earlier in the season seem to have dissipated once head coach Brad Stevens started moving some of his pieces around the chessboard. Gordon Hayward is now coming off the bench, and easing into the role of a team player appears to suit him more than co-starring as the centerpiece of the offense. Once the 2017 All-Star gets acclimated we could see a more substantial role but right now, Stevens is pushing all the right buttons as his team is in the midst of a six-game winning streak that could easily reach 10 before they entertain the Greek Freak and the Milwaukee Bucks at the Garden a week from Friday.
The best betting sites were virtually unanimous in offering the lowest odds, along with Toronto, on the Celtics to claim the Eastern Conference championship this season. Yet, as satisfying as that would be, there is a giant looming in the West by the name of the Golden State Warriors. Even the most optimistic C’s fan would concede that defeating the Warriors for an NBA title would be an outside shot at best. Winning one game in that series would at least take away the humiliation of a sweep and winning a pair from the defending world champs would support the premise that Boston is the second best team in the league.
That’s about as good as it will get with this team as presently constituted unless injuries ravage the Warriors or a heavenly light from above shines on our boys and grants them a series win over a legendary foe. However, getting Davis in a Celtics’ uniform would be the coup de grace, a brilliant masterstroke from Trader Danny. What would it cost? Does it matter? Maybe it happens now or later but if the Celtics want a real chance at defying the odds and defeating the Warriors, it’s a trade that has to happen. Are you listening Mr. Ainge?