On Sunday at 6:00 p.m. the Boston Celtics will play Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans.
In a matter of two games, Zion Williamson has taken over the NBA. He broke out in his debut for a total of 22 points on 8-11 shooting, including scoring 17 straight points in the 4th-quarter against the San Antonio Spurs. Quickly following that up with a 15-point, 7-9 shooting performance against the Denver Nuggets (both New Orleans losses).
Zion Williamson turned a night featuring two sub-.500 teams into the highest rated game this season outside of Christmas day.
Zion presents a unique problem for opposing teams with his athleticism and size. Williamson has also shown he doesn’t shy away from contact either, particularly in the post; he tends drop his shoulder right into the defender’s chest and overpower them for layups and dunks. All of that has been great for him thus far, but he might be walking into some offensive fouls in the near future (not that anyone will want to draw the foul).
The Celtics’ official injury report for the game is yet to be announced, but they do have plenty of people to throw at Williamson. Brad Stevens will probably try a few different defensive schemes but he does have a lot of options.
The Celtics could try to pressure Zion with Semi Ojeleye, who has the team’s best strength to quickness ratio, but it’s likely Zion will prove to be too much for Ojeleye.
Stevens could also go the more traditional route by putting one of the Celtics’ wings on him, let him shoot outside shots and trap him once he gets anywhere near the paint to force him into making bad passes.
Usually against a guy with Zion’s overpowering physical abilities and the lack of an outside shot, teams could try a zone defense. But, The Pelicans play at such a fast pace and have shooters like Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and JJ Redick which rules out zone as an option here.
Whatever the Celtics try to do, as long as they keep him out of transition and off the offensive glass, they should walk out with a win.