Game On: Celtics @ Hornets
Matchup: Celtics (48-19) @ Hornets(40-30)
Off Efficiency: Celtics 104.5 (14th), Hornets 103.5 (19th)
Def Efficiency: Celtics 97.4 (2nd), Hornets 101.0 (6th)
Pace: Celtics 92.9 (23rd), Hornets 91.2 (28th)
Injuries- Shaq is out. The Hornets are healthy
Consider tonight the first game of the playoffs. From here on out, every contest is that much more meaningful. One slip up could cost the Hornets the 5th seed, and a date with Oklahoma instead of Dallas or the Lakers. At the moment the Hornets are only a game and a half back of fifth seeded Denver.
New Orleans enters tonight’s contest with Boston having won five of their last seven games, and three of four on the most recent home stand. They previously defeated Boston on December 30th, although it should be noted that Boston was playing without Garnett or Rondo. At the time, Michael had a hunch that Rondo would play despite injury because of his rivalry with Paul. Well, tonight I have a hunch that Rondo shouldn’t play, at least if doesn’t want his confidence to sink even lower.
Paul vs Rondo
Paul has been dominating since returning from the concussion, averaging 28-11-6-5 steals-1.7 TO’s, and with 2 days of rest leading up to this one, he should have another huge game. In a quote that you’ve already read, since apparently everyone thinks it’s really mind blowing or something, Paul said “I’ve learned, watching all the games, that if I’m aggressive early, it makes the defense collapse on me and it makes my teammates open even more.”
YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDNG ME, CHRIS PAUL! THE PEOPLE HERE AT HORNETS247 AND AROUND THE INTERNET HAVE BEEN SAYING THAT FOR…
Actually, never mind. This is a great idea. If Chris continues to implement his new strategy of attacking throughout the entire game instead of just in the second half, life is going to continue to be difficult for Paul’s nemesis, Rajon Rondo. He’s only 4-29 in the last four games, not getting to the free throw line even a single time.
Paul and Rondo both do well penetrating and then dishing to the open man, so the Hornets are going to need Okafor to keep the middle clogged up so that Rondo doesn’t start finding seams and getting easy layups. If he finds his game rhythm early, this one gets a lot harder for the Hornets.
Wake Me Up When the Shot Clock Gets to 8
Both teams play a slow, deliberate style, so nearly all of the offense will be run in the half court. On the defensive end, the fans have the potential to play a big roll tonight. The Hornets take 43% of their shots with less than 8 seconds left on the shot clock, and the Celtics take 42% of theirs. That leads to a lot of possessions with Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo just standing on the perimeter barking instructions to their teammates.
Bring Some Ear Plugs
It’s going to get loud tonight, and those in Celtic Green shouldn’t expect to even make a dent in the noise level at the Arena. The Hornets fans, and the Bee-Zanies in particular, will be loud, in attendance, and excited. Saturday night games in New Orleans are typically well attended, and this one has been sold out for days.
On some days having a beer garden and a party outside before the game doesn’t provide too much of an additional boost to the volume level of fans, but on a sunny, 80 degree Saturday in mid March, it’s going to be huge. People will be there for hours beforehand, and once they get inside you can be assured that the Hive will be buzzing. The atmosphere will be of the playoff variety.
Okafor Can Do It
On the offensive end, Okafor could very well have a big game against the strange Celtics front court. He has performed well against Kristic over the years, and continues to enjoy a clear advantage. With Paul penetrating early, and Kristic a poor defender to begin with, I fully expect Okafor to be on the receiving end of numerous silky smooth passes that will result in thunderous smashes.
The crowd will erupt.
It will be glorious.
Notes From the Arena
- I will be at the Arena for the pre-game press conferences starting at around 5 ct, as well as outside for a few shots of the party. If you have anything specific you want to ask anyone, let me know and I’ll do what I can. As I’ve noted before, the less popular the player, the easier it is to get an answer.
- New Orleans is 6-3 against the top five teams in the Eastern Conference so far this season.
- They are 11-2 at home against the Eastern conference as a whole.
- 11 of the Hornets 12 remaining opponents have won more than half their games.
- Don’t forget to take a closer look at the Hornets path to the playoffs if you missed it previously.
- There are LOTS of Celtic fans here early. Let’s hope that the Hornets fans can get loud. The Bee-Zanies have started already.
In the previous game, Marco Belinelli played nine minutes. Against Boston, with Marco already delivering double figures in the first quarter, Monty once again had called Willie Green to sub for Marco. As always, regardless of how Marco plays, Monty takes him out for Willie. Fortuntately there was no break in the action, Marco stayed in and scored again. Then he was out. First again. When Willie finally did get out there he threw up two air balls and ended up w/o a field goal. Willie is fine as a bench player for the Hornets. But, I repeat, he is an ordinary player with limited range and minimal creativity. Marco's upside is far greater and still developing IF he is allowed to stay on the floor for consistent (30+ mins per) time. Marco played the fewest minutes of any regular last night but had the best +/-. Even in his nine minutes v. Phoenix he was +9. Thursday is Marco's 25th birthday. Give it up for the clever Italian. And Monty, give him the minutes he deserves.
To simply put how I feel about the loss tonight: Pissed. How I feel about the many many many missed shots: Pissed. But How I feel about how we'll compete against teams like the Celtics: I'm not too mad about that. I mean of course if we had won it would be great but this game shows that we can compete at high level against a Celtic-like team. I just hope Christopher Paul doesn't show up like he did tonight anymore
Did Paul forget how to shoot. Maybe we should tell him Marcus plays for Boston and see if he shows up.
Need to take it at Davis and get him his 5th foul so he can sit down and stop killing us with the jumpers
Damn the Celtics got louder applause than the Hornets did. There were actually some boos for the home team.
Hey do any of you guys think Landry could run at the 3 behind Ariza when comes out instead of QPon? I mean Jason Smith's minutes have dropped alot and he was a nice addition to the squad when he had more minutes. Cp/Jjack Belli/Green/QPon Ariza/Landry/Qpon Dwest/JSmith/Landry Okafor/Gray or Mbenga(sigh)/ JSmith I mean it may not be the greatest idea but im just wondering if anyone had thought about it. And it would give us a little height.
i think its best for the hornets if j smith sees no minutes. i live andersen over him even. but landry needs those minutes at the 4, maybe a few at the 3 but q-pon looked good last time out, and unlike ariza knows his limitations on the offensive end
I think he's a solid point guard, but I cannot stand Rajon Rondo one bit. I think his arrogance is misplaced. He ONLY leads the league in assists because of the caliber of players he has around him. If he and Chris Paul were to switch teams, the Hornets wouldn't make the playoffs, and the Celtics could possibly be the greatest assembled team in the history of the league. Rondo just does what he's supposed to do. He doesn't make people better. Whoever thinks that's stupid and refuses to remember that KG, Pierce, and Allen were studs LONG before Rondo ever stepped into the league. And think about those 3 guys. KG. Pierce. Allen. All three of those guys are better then our second best player, David West. To me, that speaks VOLUMES when comparing Rondo to Paul. I've heard people say Rondo's the best PG in the league now. That is the most ignorant comment I have ever heard.
Caption: Rondo buries his face in a towel in a desperate attempt to fight off the giggles that will let KG know that he is indeed boy crazy. Any live chat tonight?
KG (while holding Rondo's knee): Damn you fine tonight R(h)onda...... R(h)onda: Fuck you, you like Frye's nuts more than mine.....It's all about size to you *goes crying to Big Baby*......
Oh if you can ask CP3 somehow: Is it a physiological thing that he without a brace it's a freer game and that you can notice how he was playing without and with brace, that we fans can really see the difference and is he feeling a difference too and how is to play against Rondo, does it spice him up for the game more.... And if you can ask Q-Pon: Does he have to do some mean rookie stuff, are the guys too harsh to him....
Well, this one is going to be a tough one, but I got a feeling, that tonight's gonna be a good night!!!! I like Rondo, but he sometimes gets too crafty and angry, like KG, I think CP3 will bring his A+ game and he will dominate, I predict a real grudge match at the PF position, DWest and KG will battle for real.... I think that Rondo will show up after 4 games of 4/29 because, we all know how much he despises that CP3 is being called the TOP PG in the game and he has a ring and he thinks he ain't etc. remember the little "scuffle" between them two in the Garden last season.... It should be fun, I think if we OUTexecute the Celtics, we have a great chance and the X factor for the C's is Allen, we know that we have bad 3PT defense, it's going to be tough out there.... For us, the X factor is Emeka and Marco, Marco needs to hit his shots, Okafor needs to defend the paint and give a LITTLE BIT of offense.... The crowd is gonna be outstanding, the best crowd in the NBA is the NOLA crowd.... I will enjoy the game for sure here in Croatia, at 1 AM, I hope we win, GO NOLAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!
I'd like you to ask Marco about his thought's on his current situation since the Landry trade. (see what I did there?) Perhaps if this trade really ignited his confidence in that he's taking more and knocking down his open 3's and also being aggresive in taking some tough fall back jumpers he wasn't earlier in the season. Did something else happen to spark this? Is his ankle finally healed? Perhaps a butt chewing by Monty or CP that gave him a wake up call? Or did the trade just solidify that we expected more from him. Just a thought.
The trade solidified his position with the team. Before the deadline, his name was floating around. It bothered him because he feels like he found a home in New Orleans. And with so much hype around Thornton, management had a tough decision to make between which one to move. I think his "confidence" is simply him happy and comfortable now that he wasn't moved again.