Celtics (58-16) at Hornets (18-56) Game #75 4/1/24

Celtics (58-16) at Hornets (18-56) Game #75 4/1/24


The Celtics close out their 6 game road trip with a stop in Charlotte to take on Grant Williams and the Charlotte Hornets. They are 3-2 so far on the trip, beating Detroit, Chicago, and New Orleans and losing twice to Atlanta. This is the 2nd of 3 games between these two teams this season. The Celtics lost the first game 118-121 in OT on November 20 at Charlotte. They will meet a 3rd time on April 12 in Boston.

The Celtics won the series 4-0 last season, winning 2 at home and 2 on the road. They are 75-46 overall all time against Charlotte and they are 35-26 all time in games played in Charlotte. The Hornets are playing in the second of back to back games. They hosted the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. The Hornets are 3-10 on the second night of back to back games.

The Celtics remain 1st in the East, 11 games ahead of 2nd place Milwaukee, 13.5 games ahead of 3rd place Cleveland, 14 games ahead of 4th place New York, 15 games ahead of 5th place Orlando, and 16.5 games ahead of 6th place Indiana. They are 26-13 on the road and 8-2 in their last 10 games. They are 38-9 against Eastern Conference teams and are coming off a win in their last game.

The Hornets are 13th in the East, 4.5 games ahead of 14th place Washington and 5.5 games ahead of 15th place Detroit. They are 5 games behind 12th place Toronto and 15.5 games behind 10th place Atlanta and a spot in the play in games. They are 10-25 at home and 3-7 in their last 10 games. They are 11-36 against Eastern Conference teams and have lost their last 2 games.

The Celtics are playing in the 6th and final game of their road trip. They are 3-2 so far on the trip, beating Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans and losing 2 games to Atlanta. After this game in Charlotte they will return home for 3 games against Oklahoma City, Sacramento, and Portland. Then it’s one game on the road in Milwaukee before finishing the season at home against New York, Charlotte and Washington.

The Hornets are playing in the 4th game of an 8 game home stand. They are 1-2 so far, beating Cleveland and losing to Golden State and the Clippers. They will close out the home stand against Portland, Orlando, Oklahoma City, and Dallas. They will then finish out the season on the road against Atlanta, Boston and Cleveland.

Jaylen Brown was seen shaking his hand in Saturday’s game and also slipped at one point and hit his knee on the court. He is listed as questionable for this game with a sprained left hand. Kristaps Porzingis is also listed as questionable due to right hamstring injury management. Jaden Springer is questionable with a knee injury. JD Davison is out with an ankle injury.

I’m guessing that Brown and Porzingis will be held out of this game as a precaution with big games against Oklahoma City and Sacramento coming up. I’ll guess that Luke Kornet and Sam Hauser get the start in this game. Of course it’s hard to tell what they will do at this time of year. I definitely wouldn’t have imagined the starting lineup with Tatum, Brown, Hauser, Horford and Porzingis so who knows who they will start in this one.

For the Hornets, LaMelo Ball hasn’t played since Jan. 26 due to a left ankle injury and will miss the rest of the season. Seth Curry Curry hasn’t played since March 1 due to a right ankle sprain and is out for the rest of the season. Cody Martin has also been ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury. Mark Williams has been out since Dec. 8 and will miss this game. Aleksej Pokusevski is questionable with an illness.

Probable Celtics Starters

PG: Jrue HolidaySG: Derrick WhiteSF: Sam HauserPF: Jayson TatumC: Luke Kornet

Celtics ReservesOshae BrissettAl HorfordSvi MykhailiukPayton PritchardJordan WalshJaden SpringerXavier Tillman

2 Way PlayersJD DavisonDrew PetersonNeemias Queta

Injuries/OutJaylen Brown (hand) questionable Jaden Springer (knee) questionableKristaps Porzingis (hamstring) questionable JD Davison (ankle) out

Head CoachJoe Mazzulla

Probable Hornets Starters

PG: Vasa MicicSG: Tre MannSF: Brandon MillerPF: Miles Bridges C: Nick Richards

Hornets Reserves Davis BertansBryce McGowens Nick Smith, Jr JT Thor Grant Williams

2 Way PlayersAmari BaileyLeaky Black Marques Bolden

Injuries/Out LaMelo Ball (ankle) out Cody Martin (knee) out Seth Curry (ankle) outMark Williams (back) out Aleksej Pokusevski (illness) questionable

Head CoachSteve Clifford

Key Matchups

Jayson Tatum vs Miles Bridges Bridges is averaging 21.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1 steal per game. He is shooting 46% from the field and 34.7% from beyond the arc. He has been a bright spot in an otherwise very forgettable season.

Sam Hauser vs Brandon Miller Miller is averaging 16.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He is shooting 43.5% from the field and 37.1% from beyond the arc. Of course, Jaylen Brown could start here instead of Hauser or who knows who else could start here. If Tatum could start at the point, I’m not eliminating anything.

Honorable MentionLuke Kornet vs Nick Richards Richards is averaging 9.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game. He is shooting 68.8% from the field and has not hit any 3 pointers. It’s just a guess that Kornet will start here but it could be Al Horford or it could be Porzingis, who is just questionable and not listed as out as yet. Or, it may be Xavier Tillman. At this point of the season, I really don’t know.

Keys to the GameDefense – Defense is always a key to winning. It was a lack of defense that lost the 2 games against Atlanta and it was good defense that got them back on track against the Pelicans. The Celtics are 3rd with a defensive rating of 110.7. The Hornets are 28th with a defensive rating of 118.9. The Hornets are 29th in scoring with 106.2 points per game. The Celtics are 1st in 3 point attempts with 42.4 and 2nd in 3 point percentage at 39.0%. The Hornets are 17th with 33.6 three point attempts per game and 26th in 3 point percentage at 34.9%. The Celtics need to especially guard the Hornets in the paint and the mid-range.

Rebound – The Celtics can’t score if they don’t have the ball, and the best way to get the ball is the grab rebounds. The Celtics are 2nd in the league with 46.4 rebounds per game while the Hornets are last with 40.7 rebounds per game. The Celtics need to put out extra effort on the boards and when they do, that effort usually translates to the rest of their game. They can’t allow the Hornets to out rebound them as they did the Hawks.

Don’t Underestimate – The Hornets are shorthanded with 5 players either out or questionable. They have won just 18 of their 73 games so far. It would be easy for the Celtics to come in expecting an easy win and not giving their best effort. However, one of their 18 wins was over the Celtics. The Celtics have to start strong and play hard throughout the game. They can’t expect to win, even against a depleted team that is not playing well, if they don’t play hard and give it their all.

X-Factors On the Road and Fatigue – The Celtics are on the road for the 6th straight game away from TD Garden. They are playing in the final game of a road trip, which is often the toughest to win. They need to get past the distractions of travel and playing in front of a hostile crowd. They have to concentrate on playing the right way and ignore all the distractions. All the travel and playing short handed in several of the games may mean that fatigue comes into play down the stretch.

Officiating – Officiating is always an x-factor. Some officials call the game tight and call every little bit of contact. Others let them play and allow both teams to be physical. Some refs give the home team the benefit of the calls while others favor the road team or call it even. Some refs just make head scratching calls. The Celtics have to concentrate on playing their game and not allow bad calls and no calls to take away from their focus on playing.

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