Celtics could be undersized against Anthony Davis, Pelicans tonight
Against the lowly Chicago Bulls on Saturday night, missing Al Horford and Aron Baynes wasn't necessarily too big of a deal. Judging by the ridiculous 56-point victory on the road, the interior skills of Horford and Baynes weren't sorely missed. But when the C's host Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans Monday night, it would be in Boston's best interest to have their best defensive big men available.
The Pelicans have been a very inconsistent team over the first third of the season, but Davis has been his typical MVP-caliber self every game. Davis is averaging 26.9 points and 12 rebounds, along with his typical ball-hawking defense. He's coming off, arguably, the worst game of his season (six points on 2-7 shooting), so it's safe to say that "The Brow" will be looking to feast on Boston's potentially diminished front line.
Two ankle sprains and some knee soreness could shrink the Celtics' roster by a large margin. There's still a chance that Horford and Baynes could play, but the potential absences could be a huge factor in tonight's game. When Boston visited the Pelicans in late November, Davis put up 27 points and 16 rebounds, which was considered a defensive win based on his efficiency (8-19 from the field). Even with the C's at full strength, Davis was able to impose his will on the game by getting to the free throw line and hitting enough shots to keep the game close.
We've seen that the Horford/Baynes tandem can be difficult for opposing bigs to deal with. Horford is always within reach of being crowned Defensive Player of the Year, and Baynes' size and willingness to throw his body around is a load. From Joel Embiid to Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Boston bigs might not stop them from having a big night, but they will make sure they earn every point they score, and make them work on the defensive end.
Daniel Theis is coming off of the best game of his young career (22 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four blocks), but he won't be much of a match for Davis if he is on his game. Add in an invigorated Julius Randle in the starting lineup and the consistently underrated play of Jrue Holiday and the C's have a difficult matchup on their hands, especially if the injury bug rears it's ugly head.
Be on the lookout for more updates on the health of Horford and Baynes after the Celtics get through shoot around and get closer to game time. CelticsLife.com will have all of your game day updates!
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Photo via Yong Kim/The Inquirer