Charlotte Hornets (14-12) at Boston Celtics (13-12)
Friday, December 16, 2016
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #26 Home Game #11
TV: CSN-NE, FSSE, NBA-LP 755(DTV)/753(XFinity)
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub, WFNZ 610 AM
Referees: Tom Washington, Lauren Holtkamp, Kevin Scott
The Celtics return home from their midwest road trip to face the Charlotte Hornets. After meeting twice in the preseason, the Celtics and Hornets meet for the second of 4 meetings in the regular season. The Celtics beat the Hornets 104-98 in their first meeting for Charlotte's home opener. They will meet again on 1/16 and 4/2.
These two teams are a lot alike. Both have 12 losses on the year. Both teams lost on the road on Wednesday and both have lost their last 3 games. The Celtics are 4-6 in their last 10 games while the Hornets are 5-5 in their last 10. The Celtics are 5-5 at home while the Hornets are 6-6 on the road.
The Celtics won the series 2-1 last season with the Celtics winning twice in Charlotte and the Hornets returning the favor and winning in Boston. In the preseason, the Celtics won both meetings between these two teams. Charlotte was missing Frank Kaminsky for both preseason games but were pretty much at full strength for their home opener. The Celtics were without both Kelly Olynyk and Marcus smart for all 3 contests so far.
Kemba Walker is not with the team and will miss this game for personal reasons. He is expected to rejoin the team on Saturday when they will close out their 5 game road trip in Atlanta. Ramon Sessions is expected to get the start in his place.
Isaiah Thomas has missed the Celtics' last 4 games and is a game time decision for this game. Isaiah has said that he will be suited up and ready to help his team win but no official word from the team as yet. I'm thinking positive thoughts and put him in the starting lineup but if he can't go, Marcus Smart will once again get the start. Gerald Green is nursing a sore hamstring and is questionable for this game.
PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Al Horford
C: Amir Johnson
Gerald Green (hamstring) questionable
Isaiah Thomas (groin) game time decision
Head Coach: Brad Stevens
PG: Ramon Sessions
SG: Nicolas Batum
SF: Michael Kidd Gilchrist
PF: Marvin Williams
C: Cody Zeller
Kemba Walker (personal) out
Avery Bradley vs Nicolas Batum
Batum is averaging 13.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists and is the Hornets second leading scorer behind Kemba Walker. With Walker out, Batum will need to step up and fill in for him. Avery will need to keep him from doing so.
Amir Johnson vs Cody Zeller
Zeller is averaging 10.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. He has a height advantage over Amir but Amir has both an experience and a bulk advantage over Zeller. Should be an interesting matchup.
Kelly Olynyk vs Frank Kaminsky
Kaminsky had a big game against the Celtics in their first meeting this season and seems to play well against the Celtics. He is averaging 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds off the bench for the Hornets. Hopefully Kelly can play well off the bench to offset his production. We may see some Zeller vs Zeller in this game as well.
Keys to the Game
Defense!!! - Defense wins games but the Celtics haven't often played the in your face lock down defense that we saw from them last season. They have too many very good defensive players for them to allow teams to have high scoring games on them. They have to play better team defense and communicate better than they have been so far this season.
Rebound - You have to have the ball in order to score and you are going to struggle if you allow the opponent to beat you on the boards. The Hornets average 45.5 rebounds to 42.1 for the Celtics. The Celtics simply must fight harder to win the battle of the boards.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics need to be the more aggressive team. They have to play harder and fight for loose balls and rebounds and play harder on defense. They must be the team that wants it more! They need to get back to being that scrappy team that plays hard and scraps for every possession.
Play Hard for 48 Minutes - The Celtics can't let up and allow a big lead to disappear as they have so often this season. They also can't come out flat like they also have at times this season. They have to play hard from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
Home Court Factor - The Celtics are playing at home and should get a boost from the home crowd. Both teams are trying to get back in the win column after losing 3 straight. The home crowd and Celtic Pride needs to motivate them to get a win in this one.
Officiating - The officiating is always an x-factor in every game. Will the refs let them play or will they call every little bit of contact. Will they call it evenly or will they favor one team or the other. The Celtics need to adapt to the way the game is called and not let the refs take them out of the game.
Players In or Out - It goes without saying that the Celtics miss Isaiah Thomas and it would be a big boost if he can come back for this game. It also goes without saying that the Hornets will miss Kemba Walker for this game