The Zion Williamson era is here. The most highly anticipated rookie in years made his debut on Wednesday night, and it was worth the wait. Williamson dazzled everyone with his athleticism, ripping off 17 straight points against San Antonio to finish with a team-high 22 points despite playing just 18 minutes. The New Orleans Pelicans ended up losing to the Spurs 121-117, but Williamson’s play has fans excited for the next few years. New Orleans will welcome the Boston Celtics to the Big Easy on Sunday evening, and the Celtics will try to figure out how to stop Zion.
This game will take place at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET on January 26, 2020, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.
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Head-To-Head Results to Date
When these teams met in Boston two weeks ago, it wasn’t even close. Boston hammered New Orleans 140-105 as Jayson Tatum had the best night of his career. Tatum went 16-22 from the floor to finish with a team-high 41 points, and the Celtics imposed their will on the Pelicans in the paint. Enes Kanter went 10-13 for 22 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in the win, as Boston hit 55 percent of its field goals and 48.3 percent of its triples.
Boston may not have either of those big men on Sunday. Kanter has been dealing with a hip injury and will miss Friday night’s game against Orlando, and Tatum is questionable to play in that game too because of a strained groin. Center Robert Williams is still on the mend with a hip injury too and shooting guard Jaylen Brown will be questionable to play because of a sprained ankle.
The Pelicans received the worst news with Darius Miller earlier in the week when it was announced he would miss the rest of the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon. Miller tore his Achilles’ tendon in late August, and the team was holding out hope for a return late in the campaign, but those injuries are tricky. Additionally, J.J. Redick and Josh Hart are both questionable to play on Sunday due to minor injuries, and Kenrich Williams is doubtful to see the court because of a back injury.
Player to Watch
For the next few weeks, all you are going to hear about with New Orleans is Zion Williamson. Williamson has a rare blend of size, length, and athleticism, and that was on full display on Wednesday night. In his first game as a pro, Williamson showed a little bit of everything and stuffed the stat sheet in his 18 minutes. He pulled down seven rebounds and doled out three assists when San Antonio started shifting its focus to him, and he showed he can knock down perimeter shots by going 4-4 from downtown. With Tatum and Kanter iffy to play, Williamson could have his first monster game on Sunday provided he spends enough time on the court.
Keep an eye on the injury report before betting this game. Redick and Hart have been important members of the Pelicans, and Tatum, Brown, and Kanter see a lot of action for the Celtics. If Tatum or Kanter doesn’t play that will open things up for Zion and Brandon Ingram, and the duo have the potential to dominate the paint in the same manner the Celtics did two weeks ago.
Once again, pay attention to Twitter so you’re in the know on the injuries. If all things are equal though, bet on New Orleans to cover the spread. The Pelicans have shown signs of life after a rough start, winning 10 of their last 15 games, while the Celtics are 4-6 in their last 10 games.
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