The Celtics play their first home game of the preseason against the Charlotte Hornets, the team that beat them just 2 days ago on the road. This is the second of just 4 preseason games for the Celtics while it is the 2nd of 5 preseason games for the Hornets. With the first game and an extra practice under their belts, hopefully the Celtics will make a better showing in this game.
Brad Stevens started the 5 that most expected him to in the first game and more than likely, the same 5 will start again to give them time to mesh before the start of the regular season. However, he kept all players to 20 minutes or less and will likely keep their minutes down again in this game as well. I’m going to guess that with Horford out, Brad will start Baynes at center, but it’s the preseason so anyone could start here, even Robert Williams.
The Hornets started the players that most expect to start for them in the regular season also and I’m guessing that they will start the same lineup again in this game. The Hornets shot only 38.2% from the field and 30.6% from beyond the arc, but the Celtics shot just 19.1% from 3 point distance while taking 47 3 pointers.
Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Daniel Theis all returned from injury but the Celtics were without Marcus Smart, who missed Friday’s game for personal reasons, is expected to be back and play in this game. Al Horford is listed as out with a right wrist sprain.
The Hornets played without Malik Monk on Friday who is recovering from a pelvic contusion. He is listed as available for this game. Devonte Graham is expected to be out with a knee injury. The Celtics are rumored to be signing Marcus Georges-Hunt but it’s unclear when he plans to join the team.
Probable Celtics Starters
BWA (Bench with Attitude)
Walt Lemon Jr
Marcus Morris Sr
Jabari Bird (not with team) out
Marcus Smart expected to play
Al Horford (wrist) out
Probable Hornets Starters
Michael Kidd Gilchrist
Devonte Graham (knee) out
Malik Monk (pelvic contusion) probable
Kyrie Irving vs Kemba Walker
This should definitely be the starting point guard matchup once again and if so, will also once again be a key matchup. Kyrie looked a little rusty in his first game shooting 4-10 for 9 points and just 1-5 from beyond the arc. Walker didn’t look much better, scoring 12 points on 3-10 shooting and 1-4 from the outside.
Gordon Hayward vs Nicolas Batum
Gordon Hayward also looked a bit rusty but it was very good to see him back on the court. He was just 2-7 from the field and 1-5 from three but he also shot 7 free throws for 10 total points. Batum should start at SF again in this game. He also scored 10 points on 4-9 shooting and 2-6 from beyond the arc. Hopefully Gordon’s rust will start to wear away and we will get to see what he can really do.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always a key to winning. Brad has stressed that the Celtics can’t skip steps, especially on the defensive end. They allowed too many open shots and failed to box out several times allowing the Hornets to get easy baskets. They also need to tighten up their 3 point defense as well. Hopefully they can tighten up their defense in this one.
Offense - There were times last season when the Celtics would have offensive droughts. The offense looked great in the first half when the Celtics scored 60 points but in the second half, they had one of those droughts where they couldn’t hit their shots. They shot just 19% from beyond the arc and that just can’t happen again. If the 3’s aren’t falling they should take it to the basket.
Rebound - With all the misses last game there were a lot of rebounds available. The Celtics allowed the Hornets to out rebound them 65-56. They can’t score without the ball and so they have to crash the boards and not allow the Hornets to get second chance baskets or begin fast breaks.
Chemistry - The Celtics need to build on court chemistry and work off the rust in these 4 preseason games. The Sixers looked pretty good in their first game and so the Celtics need to be ready to face them on day 1. They need to work on that chemistry while playing short stints together in the 3 remaining games.
NO INJURIES - This pretty much is obvious. After having to play through losing several key players last season, the Celtics need to stay healthy. This is just the preseason and we want all of our players to be healthy going into the regular season. Play hard and play good, but don’t get hurt!!
Three Point Shooting - The Celtics must shoot better than 19%, especially if they shoot 47 of them as they did in the first game. If the 3’s aren’t falling they need to go to the basket and not settle for outside bricks.