The Boston Celtics have a couple of big trends
going against them as they travel to the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday night. The C’s have struggled on the road lately and in the second half of back-to-back situations all year.
The Celtics (48-18 straight-up, 31-33-2 against the spread) are trying to adapt on the fly with a changing roster due to a big trade, injuries and free agent pickups.
Boston is a decent 7-4 SU, but only 4-7 ATS since the deadline deal than sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.
That was a strange move for GM Danny Ainge as Perkins was a popular player and a very good post defender, always needed in the playoffs. The situation is made worse by centers Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal both out with injuries. Shaq traveled with the team for this three-game trip, but likely won’t play. Krstic is the only real center playing now.
There is more injury news with struggling point guard Rajon Rondo (ankle) playing far less than 100 percent. Backups Glen Davis and Delonte West recently returned, but the second unit needs time to play together with Green a new addition along with free agents like Troy Murphy and Carlos Arroyo.
Coach Doc Rivers would normally be tuning up for the playoffs, instead of just getting guys acquainted. Plus, Boston needs to win as it trails Chicago by a half-game for top spot in the Eastern Conference. Both teams want homecourt advantage.
The Celtics have won their last two games at home over Indiana (92-80) and Milwaukee (87-56), covering the spread as 10 ½ and eight-point favorites respectively.
The Indiana game was on Wednesday and the 172 combined points scored went way ‘under’ the 195-point total. The ‘under’ is 4-0 in Boston’s last four games with the offense stagnating at 86 PPG, 11 points lower than its season average.
Boston lost its last two road contests at New Jersey (88-79) and Philadelphia (89-86) and is 0-3 ATS in its last three away games.
Boston traveled to Houston for a Friday night contest. That result is still pending with the Celtics around a one-point favorite. The aging Celtics with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are miserable in the second half of back-to-backs this year (3-11 ATS).
The Hornets (40-30 SU, 34-34-2 ATS) look solid for the playoffs in seventh place in the Western Conference, but can’t afford to take their foot off the gas.
New Orleans (24-10 SU at home) is finishing up a five-game homestand that’s started 3-1 SU and 2-1-1 ATS. The games were against Dallas (93-92 win), Sacramento (115-103 win), Denver (114-103 loss) and Phoenix on Wednesday (100-95 win).
Point guard Chris Paul missed the Dallas game with a concussion, but has averaged a phenomenal 28.7 PPG the last three. His scoring has been down this year at 16.4 PPG.
The Hornets are 27th in the league in scoring (94.8 PPG), so it’s good to see them hit triple-digits the last three. Their defense has been stingy all year (93 PPG, ranked fourth), but is allowing 104 PPG the last three.
Coach Monty Williams has relied heavily on the starting lineup with all five guys in double-digits. Power forward David West leads at 18.5 PPG. The bench has been weak, but has improved lately with newly acquired big man Carl Landry.
These teams met in Boston back on New Year’s Eve, with the Hornets winning 83-81 as 4 ½-point ‘dogs. Both Rondo and Garnett were out. New Orleans beat the Celtics at home last year (93-85), but lost to them there in 2008 (89-77).
The ’under’ is 5-0 in the last five meetings between the teams.
New Orleans is not reporting any significant injuries.
Tip-off will be 5 p.m. (PT) from New Orleans Arena. Boston will finish its trip at the Knicks on Monday, while New Orleans begins a three-game jaunt in Utah on Thursday.