All signs point towards the Celtics being unable to have Anthony Davis join them this season, so they instead spent their Monday night beating Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans by a 124-107 final.
For the Celtics, who have frequently lost the battle of the opening 12 minutes, this victory was really found in the first quarter when they scored 26 of the game’s first 37 points in all. That hot start allowed the Celtics to weather the storm of mini-runs from the Pelicans, and played out to a nine-point lead at the half.
Kyrie Irving led the way for the Celtics on this night, too, with 26 points (with a 5-for-10 mark from three-point land) and 10 assists in 31 minutes of action. Irving’s night also featured some downright ridiculous makes, including a highly-improbable spin-and-shoot from deep Irving almost effortlessly dropped from the corner in the first quarter.
And as Brad Stevens continued to tinker with his starting five, it was Marcus Smart that got the start in place of Jaylen Brown, and logged a season-high 40 minutes of action in the win. In fact, Smart’s 40-minute effort made him just the second Celtic to log at least 40 minutes in a single-game this season, joining Irving’s 43-minute effort in an overtime win over the Suns.
Smart made a tangible impact with his time, too, pestering the Pelicans into countless turnovers (the Celtics scored a season-best 32 points off turnovers in the win), and finished his night with eight points, five assists, and a plus-12 rating.
While not the most scoring-friendly backcourt (at least in comparison to other versions Stevens has rolled out this season), the Irving-Smart combination proved to make for an efficient night for the Celtics, with tremendous on-floor metrics.
Celtics with Kyrie/Smart on the floor together on Monday night:— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) November 27, 2018
75 points scored in 26 shared minutes, team shot 52.7% overall and 61.9% from 3. Outscored Pels by 17 in that span.
The Celtics head back to Boston for a Friday night showdown with the Cleveland Cavaliers.