After three games at home, the Celtics are back on the road heading to Charlotte. The team went 2-1 during that home stand taking down the Bulls with ease and an impressive overtime win against the Raptors. Saturday night, they unfortunately fell back into their offensive woes losing a disappointing game on a back-to-back against the Utah Jazz. Tonight, they will go into the Spectrum Center looking for the win.
For Boston, the Jazz game continued to solidify the impression of this offense to this point in the season. It was just stagnant the whole night. The team looked better against Chicago, but then even in the win against Toronto, Kyrie took control and put the team on his back willing them to a victory in overtime. It, of course, was an incredibly impressive performance and win for Kyrie and the Celtics, but the team around Kyrie still was not where we expect them to be. This was just amplified the next night against Utah.
The story for the Charlotte Hornets a month into this season pretty much begins and ends with Kemba Walker. In their Saturday night game against the 76ers, Kemba had a career high 60 points. They ended up losing the game, but he has been a man on a mission this season who was leading the league in points per game at 28.7 points until Lebron James took the lead at 28.8 ppg with a 51-point outburst in yesterday’s game.
Walker has been the entire pulse of this offense which ranks 7th overall in offensive rating. He also is shooting an average of 10.3 three-points per game having made the second most in the league behind Steph Curry. He is shooting 45.8% from the field and 37.7% from three, so the shot volume is not completely unwarranted.
Now, if the Celtics have more offensive struggles tonight, they need to keep one important stat in mind when it comes to the Charlotte Hornets. Over the past three seasons, the Hornets are 2-19 over games decided by three points or fewer. The most recent came in their last game against the 76ers as they lost in overtime. If the Celtics are not looking hot out of the gate, they just need to focus on keeping the game close.
The storylines will once again be focused around the Celtics offense. Kyrie can get in a rhythm with both point guards thinking offense first, but the rest of the starting roster needs to eventually start hitting shots. It can only be written so many times, but that continues to be the one and only story for this Celtics team in the first month of the season.
The Celtics come into this one healthy with no scratches from the lineup. However, for the Hornets, they will only be without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with a nagging ankle injury that has kept him out a few games now. Without MKC, rookie Miles Bridges and Dwayne Bacon have been sharing the minutes.
The starters will most likely be the same as we saw at home against Utah. If these struggles continue, we may see a shake up in the starting five with the team falling back into the traditional lineup from last year, but for now, they will continue to try and work things out. This is an important game for the Celtics. The defense could determine the game in this one as Kemba will be the focus. Boston needs to lock down and get into a groove on offense early on.
PG - Kyrie Irving – Kemba Walker
SG - Jaylen Brown – Nicolas Batum
SF - Gordon Hayward – Miles Bridges
PF - Jayson Tatum – Marvin Williams
C - Al Horford – Cody Zeller
Boston – None
Charlotte- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (ankle)
How to Watch
Time – 7:00 PM EST
TV – NBC Sports Boston