BOSTON — There’s little argument that Anthony Davis is among the best big men in the NBA, and the Boston Celtics have had a front-row seat to that dominance.
Case in point, Tuesday’s 116-113 overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans at TD Garden.
But that was far from the start of it, and it likely won’t be the end of it.
Davis dropped 45 points on the Celtics while also securing 16 rebounds, and be it from the perimeter or in the paint, Boston had absolutely no answer for him.
“You’ve got to make his catches harder. You’ve got to be more alert as a team,” head coach Brad Stevens said following the loss. “(He) was awesome. I mean, he was great.”
Davis’ point total Tuesday marked the most a player has scored on the Celtics all season.
In his last eight games against the Celtics, the 24-year-old has averaged 31 points and 13.4 rebounds per game. Among his standouts are a pair of games where he dropped at least 40 points, and four games where he grabbed at least 16 boards.
But while Davis has had his way with the Celtics periodically throughout his career, an encouraging sign was his quiet fourth-quarter performance, in which the Celtics held him to four points (all free throws) on 0-for-3 shooting in just under nine minutes of play. Fortunately for Boston, they don’t often have to deal with Davis, but to be able to put together some in-game adjustments probably is the only promising thing that can be said about how the Celtics handed him.
But there’s a caveat to that.
“I think they did a good job on (Davis),” said Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry of the fourth quarter. “But also he had played a long stretch of minutes and I think he was fatigued more than anything. We were trying to find a way to give him a few minutes rest, but it just wasn’t there to be able to do. When we needed him most … I think (he) came through and that’s the big thing.”
In any event, it’s easy to see when he plays like this why he is so highly sought after in the trade market, particularly with the Celtics’ name coming up frequently in those trade talks. His ability to stretch the floor, shoot from anywhere on the court, dominate the glass and guard out to the perimeter certainly is enticing for any team.
But for now he’s not going anywhere, no matter how loud the Garden fans cheer for him during introductions. The Pelicans currently occupy sixth place in the Western Conference, and are just a half-game out of fifth. So what’s important now for Boston is figuring out what went wrong, and attempt to alleviate other players exposing them in a similar fashion.
And the Celtics will have a chance to do just that and redeem themselves against Davis, when the two teams meet one final time during the regular season on March 18.
Here are some other notes from Celtics-Pelicans:
— The Celtics lost their first game this season when they have had at least two days of rest. They’re now 5-1.
— Kyrie Irving has scored at least 20 points in eight of his 10 career games against New Orleans.
— Jaylen Brown’s five assists are a career high.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images.