The Celtics and Hornets nearly made two deals during the brief free agency period this preseason, whiffing on separate trades that would have landed Chris Paul or David West in Boston. Now, the Hornets look quite different, Paul’s busy learning chemistry with soaring eagle Blake Griffin and the Celtics enter tonight’s meeting against New Orleans (8 p.m.) with an 0-2 record that features road losses to two of the Eastern Conference’s best teams.
It’s still early and not yet time for the Boston faithful to panic, especially considering that both of Boston’s losses have come while starting Sasha Pavlovic. New Orleans should be just the medicine the short-handed Celtics need to enter the land of wins, but — *shakes with fear* — the Celtics will also be playing their first back-to-back of the season. The second night of back-to-backs have worn fangs in the recent past and preyed on Boston’s blood, a trend Boston will be looking to reverse in a shortened season that will feature more back-to-backs (I shudder just typing the term) than ever.
Boston will be looking for Rajon Rondo to continue his aggressive scoring, Brandon Bass to continue providing offensive punch and Jermaine O’Neal’s pulse to resume beating. In a perfect world, Kevin Garnett would also boost his production, at least while Pierce remains down with injury, Avery Bradley would show some semblance of an offensive game, Ray Allen and Keyon Dooling would continue to exhibit the aim of world-class archers and Sasha Pavlovic would come down with a pesky rash that requires an extended stay on the bench. The Celtics will additionally attempt to tighten their proud defense, which has allowed 51.7 percent shooting and 110.5 points per game during the first two games.
The Hornets are led by Eric Gordon and a few other semi-useful pieces. The Celtics should leave tonight with a ‘W’ — emphasis on should — and they could certainly use one.