Preview by Jack Simone, CLNS Media
After dropping a tough game to the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics (32-28, 29-30-1 ATS) are back in action for a matinee game. They take on former Celtic Terry Rozier and the Charlotte Hornets (29-30, 31-27-1 ATS), who Boston beat by 30 points at the beginning of April and sit 2.5 games behind the C’s with the 8 seed.
According to the online sports book Betonline.ag, the Hornets are 8.0 point favorites.
- Point Spread: Celtics -8
- Over-Under: 211.5 points
- Money line: Celtics -325, Hornets +270
Gordon Hayward (foot) and Malik Monk (ankle), two of Charlotte’s top scorers this season, are both out in this one. LaMelo Ball (wrist), despite being cleared to return to individual basketball activity, will not play either. Rookie Nate Darling (ankle) is out.
Robert Williams III (knee) is the only player listed on the injury report for the Celtics. Both Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown, who were out last game, are available to play.
Predicted Starting Lineups
G: Kemba Walker
G: Marcus Smart
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Tristan Thompson
G: Terry Rozier
G: Devonte’ Graham
SF: Miles Bridges
PF: Jalen McDaniels
C: PJ Washington
Rozier has been the leading scorer for the Hornets this season. He is currently averaging 20.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.0 assists a night. With the flurry of injuries the team has dealt with recently, Miles Bridges has also carried a huge load. Over the last ten games, he has been averaging 20.3 points a night on 53-45-77 splits. PJ Washington (16.3), Devonte’ Graham (14.8), and Jalen McDaniels (12.3) have also been averaging in the double-digits over that stretch.
Similar to Boston, Charlotte has been dealing injuries to key players. They lost 6-of-10 before today and are 29-30 on the season. This gives them only a three-game buffer between themselves and the ten seed.
As for Boston, the injury bug has tainted the team’s scoring numbers as of late. Brown has averaged 31.5 points in the team’s last five games but has only appeared in two of them. Jayson Tatum (25.0) has played in all five, Walker (23.3) has played in three, and Marcus Smart (15.3) has played in four. An under-the-radar player lately has been Payton Pritchard, who has appeared in each of the Celtics’ last five games and is averaging 14.4 points on 52-55-100 splits.
Boston had a rough week last week, going 1-2 in three games they could have won. They have still won seven of their last ten games, but the losses to the Bulls and Nets stung. They are currently 32-28, sit at sixth in the Eastern Conference, and are 1.5 games back of the four seed.
The Celtics took on this Hornets team not too long ago and blew them out 116-86. To replicate that success, taking care of the basketball will be the number one priority. Boston had 19 turnovers against Brooklyn the other night, and it killed them. When they blew out the Hornets at the beginning of April, they only had six. Charlotte loves to get out and run, so the Celtics cannot get sloppy with the ball.
“We have to be even more possession-oriented than we are,” Brad Stevens said. “Certainly in specific games where you’re playing a team that’s great going on runs, or on those games where you are a little short-handed. You can’t throw the ball all over the gym and expect to have a chance.”
Another interesting thing to note is Charlotte’s center rotation. Hornets coach James Borrego has been starting rookie Vernon Carey a lot lately and giving PJ Washington tons of minutes at the five. Tristan Thompson could have a solid opportunity to scrap down low and get the Celtics some extra possessions. He has been great lately, so hopefully, this will be another opportunity to show his value.
Lastly, the Celtics will have the best two players on the floor for this game. Tatum broke out of his shooting slump last game, and Brown was on fire before being sidelined. They should be free to attack on the offensive end and need to take advantage of it. Expect big games from one, if not both of them.
Celtics 121, Hornets 105
TIP OFF 1:00 p.m @ Spectrum Center
RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub