Charlotte Hornets (20-20) at Boston Celtics (25-15)
Monday, January 16, 2017
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #41 Home Game #19
TV: CSN-NE, FSSE, NBA-LP 757(DTV)/756(XFinity)
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub, WFNZ 610 AM
Referees: Bill Spooner, Sean Corbin, Kevin Cutler
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. Kemba Walker was out for the second regular season meeting. The Celtics were without both Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart for the first 3 meetings and were at full strength for the last meeting.
The Celtics are looking for their 3rd straight win and their 7th straight at home. The Hornets have lost their last 4 games and they have lost 5 straight on the road. The Hornets are 3-7 in their last 10 games while the Celtics are 8-2 in their last 10. The Celtics are 12-16 at home while the Hornets are 8-13 on the road.
Avery Bradley has missed the last 4 games and practiced on Sunday without a setback. The Celtics are being cautious but all signs point to his return for this game. Kelly Olynyk is coming off of one of the best games of h is career but as luck would have it, he rolled his right ankle, tripping over an assistant coach's son in a shooting drill, causing him to miss Sunday's practice. James Young (ankle) and Tyler Zeller (sinus infection) also both missed Sunday's practice. All 4 are listed as game time decisions for this game. For the Hornets Jeremy Lamb is out with a foot injury.
PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Al Horford
C: Amir Johnson
Avery Bradley (Achilles) game time decision
Kelly Olynyk (ankle) game time decision
James Young (ankle) game time decision
Tyler Zeller (illness) game time decision
Head Coach: Brad Stevens
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Nicolas Batum
SF: Michael Kidd Gilchrist
PF: Marvin Williams
C: Cody Zeller
Jeremy Lamb (foot) out
Isaiah Thomas vs Kemba Walker
Walker is averaging 22.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. In the first meeting between these two teams, Isaiah had 24 points and Walker had 29 points. Avery Bradley was the star in that game with 31 points including 8 three pointers. Walker missed the second meeting and Isaiah scored 26. Isaiah is playing incredibly well since returning from his groin injury with an average of 31.5 points per game since then. He is averaging 28.2 points on the season. This should be a fun matchup to watch.
Marcus Smart vs Nicolas Batum
Batum is averaging 15.2points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists and is the Hornets second leading scorer behind Kemba Walker. In the last meeting between these teams, Batum stepped up with 25 points and 10 rebounds. With a practice under his belt and no reported setbacks, hopefully we will see Avery Bradley in this game.
Al Horford vs Marvin Williams
In the last meeting between these two teams, Horford filled the box score with 18 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 5 blocks. Williams is averaging 10.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.2 assists. Hopefully Horford will have another big game in this one.
Keys to the Game
Defense!!! - Defense wins games but the Celtics haven't consistently 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. Their defense against the Hawks for the most part was very good and reports are that Sunday's practice concentrated on defense so hopefully that translates to some lock down defense in this game.
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 45.3 rebounds to 41.2 rebounds per game 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. They have won 6 straight at home and need to keep putting out extra effort at home to protect their home court. The home crowd and Celtic Pride needs to motivate them to get a win in this one.
Trap Game - The Celtics are coming off a big win over the Hawks and it would be normal for the team to have a slight let down, especially if they feel that the Hornets are not a tough opponent. In spite of the fact that the Celtics have beaten them twice, they shouldn't take this team for granted. The Hornets are capable of playing hard and pulling out a win if the Celtics take them lightly.
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.