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Celtics host the Hornets in 1st preseason game

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Celtics begin preseason play against the Charlotte Hornets

NBA: Boston Celtics at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte Hornets (0-0) at Boston Celtics (0-0)

Monday, October 2, 2017
7:30 PM ET
Preseason Game #1 Home Game #1
TV: NBA-TV, CSNNE
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 610 The Fan
TD Garden
Referees: Mike Callahan, Brandon Adair, Scott Wall

Finally Celtics basketball is back at the TD Garden. The new look Celtics will host the Charlotte Hornets in their first preseason game. The Hornets added Dwight Howard in the off season but return 4 of their starters from last season. Coach Steve Clifford worked with Howard in Orlando and in Los Angeles and is excited to be reunited with him once again.

Last season, Charlotte had a solid starting five but their bench was weak. Moving Cody Zeller to the bench with Howard taking over the starting spot should strengthen the bench somewhat. They also added former rookie of the year, Michael Carter Williams, from the Bulls who will also strengthen their bench, along the 11th pick in the draft, Malik Monk.

The Celtics starting five is still up in the air. Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and Al Horford are definites for the starting lineup, but the other two spots are not set as yet. Marcus Smart has been named as a starter for the first game. Marcus Morris is thought to have the inside track at power forward with Al Horford moving to center but with Morris out, that 5th spot is uncertain. Horford has been listed as center for the opener and so a forward such as Guerschon Yabusele, Semi Ojeleye, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, or Daniel Theis could be called on to fill that 5th starting spot. I'm going to put Yabusele there simply because one can never have enough "Dancing Bear."

The Hornets will probably start Kemba Walker at point guard in his 7th season with the Hornets. Nicolas Batum, in his 3rd season with the Hornets, will likely once again start at shooting guard. Michael Kidd Gilchrist in his 5th season with the Hornets may start at small forward. Marvin Williams in his third season with the Hornets will likely return at power forward. That should give the team some continuity and chemistry that the Celtics, with just 4 players returning, may not have. Dwight Howard will round out the starting five at center.

Marcus Morris will likely miss this game as his assault trial with his brother is still going on. Hopefully he will be able to join the team before the preseason is over. The Hornets are already dealing with several injuries. Kemba Walker missed the Hornets' open practice on Saturday with an illness. Dwight Howard (back) went through scrimmages on Saturday. Malik Monk (ankle) participated in non contact drills on Thursday. Treveon Graham (hamstring) and Julyan Stone (groin) have been limited in practice. All of the above are listed as day to day but according to head coach, Steve Clifford, they are all expected to be available for tonight's game while.Michael Carter Williams (knee) is out.

Celtics Probable Starters:

With so many new players this off season, Brad Stevens will likely experiment with lineups to see which players fit together the best. It’s safe to say that Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford will definitely start, but the other two spots will be decided through the preseason games with possibly a different lineup with each game. For this game, Brad has announced that Irving, Hayward and Horford will be joined by Marcus Smart at shooting guard. Horford will start at center and the power forward spot is still up for grabs.

Celtics Reserves: Kadeem Allen, Shane Larkin, Marcus Morris, Abdel Nader, Semi Ojeleye, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Daniel Theis, Guerschon Yabusele

Players Likely Out
Marcus Morris (trial) out

The Hornets will probably start Kemba Walker at point guard in his 7th season with the Hornets. Nicolas Batum, in his 3rd season with the Hornets, will likely once again start at shooting guard. Michael Kidd Gilchrist in his 5th season with the Hornets may start at small forward. Marvin Williams in his third season with the Hornets will likely return at power forward. That should give the team some continuity and chemistry that the Celtics, with just 4 players returning, may not have. Dwight Howard will round out the starting five at center.

Hornets Reserves: Dwayne Bacon, Michael Carter Williams, Treveon Graham, Terry Henderson, Isaiah Hicks, Jeremy Lamb, Mangok Mahiang, Malik Monk, Johnny O’Bryant, Marcus Paige, Luke Petrasek, Julyan Stone, TJ Williams, Cody Zeller


Players Likely Out

Players Out
Kemba Walker (illness) day to day
Dwight Howard (back) day to day
Malik Monk (ankle) day to day
Michael Carter Williams (knee) out
Julyan Stone (groin) day to day
Treveon Graham (hamstring) day to day

Key matchups:

Kyrie Irving will get his first taste of running the point for the Celtics against another very good point guard, Kemba Walker. It will be a solid test Kyrie as he will be matched up against another All-Star in Kemba Walker, who is coming off of a career season where he averaged 23.2 points, 5.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game. Kemba should have an advantage in this game since his team, for the most part, has played together for a few years and are familiar with the coach’s system. Kyrie will be getting used to a new system along with all new teammates after having spent just 6 days together in training camp.

Gordon Hayward gets his first test as a Celtic as he faces former rookie of the year, Michael Kidd Gilchrist in his 5th season with the Hornets. Even though the Celtics are trying to find their chemistry and their identity, hopefully Hayward will shine in this one and win this matchup. It will be important for the Celtics stars to get acclimated quickly and play well.

Keys to the Game:

  • Defense Defense Defense!! Defense is the key to winning every game, whether the preseason or the regular season or the playoffs. The Celtics lost both Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder who were both the heart of the defense. Other players must step up and commit to playing tough defense if the Celtics expect to be contenders.
  • Chemistry - The Celtics for the most part are all new to each other while the Hornets for the most part have played together for a few years. Is it possible to build chemistry quickly? Yes, but we need to be patient with the Celtics if they don’t have perfect chemistry in the first preseason game.
  • Rebound - The Celtics struggled with rebounding last season and hopefully this team will be better at crashing the boards. The Hornets have some good rebounders, especially Howard, and so this will be a good test of the Celtics’ rebounding ability.

X-Factor - Identity -

The Celtics lost Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and Avery Bradley, three of the players who provided the Celtics with their tough and gritty identity last season. And in Crowder and Bradley they lost the heart of the defense. What will the Celtics' identity be this year? Even the players aren't quite sure. The quicker they find out, the better they will be.