This is the second of 3 regular season games between the Celtics and the Hornets. These two teams met in Boston in the Celtics first preseason game this season. The Celtics came away with a 107-106 victory in that game, which was Terry Rozier’s first game back at the TD Garden. This will be his first regular season game back at the Garden. The Celtics won their first meeting in Charlotte 108-87 on November 7. They will meet again in Charlotte on 12/31.
Last season, the Celtics and Hornets split the season series 2-2. In the last game of the season, on March 23, the Hornets beat the Celtics 124-117 in Charlotte. In that game, Kemba Walker finished with 36 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists. The Celtics are 11-1 at home while the Hornets are 6-20 on the road. The Celtics have won their last 2 games while the Hornets have lost their last 2 games.
Gordon Hayward has been downgraded to out. His MRI came back clear and there doesn’t appear to be any structural damage to cause the pain in his foot so I was hoping he would be back for this game but he will miss one more game. I’m guessing that Semi will likely get the start in his place. Carsen Edwards has been recalled from the Red Claws.
Marcus Smart is still dealing with the eye infection that has kept him out of the past five games. He will miss this game and has yet to practice or even attend practice since the infection started. Vincent Poirier (finger) and Robert Williams (hip) will also miss this game. For the Hornets, PJ Washington is out with a fractured finger and Caleb Martin and Jalen McDaniels are assigned to the G-League.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Semi Ojeleye
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Daniel Theis
Vincent Poirier (finger) out
Marcus Smart (eyes) out
Robert Williams III (hip) out
Gordon Hayward (foot) out
Two Way Players
Probable Hornets Starters
PG: Terry Rozier III
SG: Devonte Graham
SF: Miles Bridges
PF: Cody Zeller
C: Bismack Biyombo
PJ Washington (finger) out
Caleb Martin G-League Assignment
Jalen McDaniels G-League Assignment
Two Way Players
Kemba Walker vs Terry Rozier
These two point guards were basically traded for each other in the off season. Terry Rozier, though will undoubtedly be looking to prove to the Celtics that they made a mistake in not keeping him on as their starter when Kyrie left. In the first game between them he scored just 3 points. However, on December 19 he had 35 points in a loss to Cleveland. He is averaging a career high 17.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists. Terry is shooting 41% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc.
Jaylen Brown vs Devonte Graham
Green has been the Hornets best player so far this season, averaging 19.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 7.5 assists. In the first game against the Celtics he had 25 points and 9 assists. He is shooting 39% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc.
Gordon Hayward vs Miles Bridges
Bridges is averaging 12.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists. He is shooting 44% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc. In the first game against the Celtics, he finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Gordon may or may not play in this game. If he can’t go, Semi will likely get the start in his place.
Keys to the Game
Defense Defense Defense!! - Defense is the key to winning every game. The Hornets average 104.6 points per game while the Celtics average 110.9 points per game. The Celtics are 5th with a defensive rating of 103.7 while the Hornets are 24th with a defensive rating of 112.4. The Celtics must continue to make defense a priority and play tough individual and team defense if they want to keep winning.
Rebound - Rebounding takes effort and desire and when the Celtics have both of those on the boards, that carries through to the other parts of their game. The Celtics must commit to give effort to get rebounds. They can’t score without the ball and they can’t give up extra possessions to the opponent by failing to rebound and expect to win.
Play Team Ball - The Celtics play best when they move the ball and find the open man. They have to play TEAM ball and share the ball and no player should try to do too much or play hero ball. They also need to commit to play team defense. The Celtics play the best when the scoring is spread out and no one player has to do too much. So far, the Celtics have done well with this and they need to continue to work as a team.
Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics have started off slow in several games this season. They need to come out strong and play hard at the beginning, especially on the defensive end and not allow the Hornets to get off to a good start and build a lead. They need to start strong and play hard right up to the final buzzer.
Next Man Up - The Celtics so far have been able to play well and fill in for their injured teammates. They need to continue to step up and give extra effort, especially the centers, until their injured teammates can return.
Home Game - The Celtics are playing in their second straight home game. The Hornets have struggled on the road this season with a 6-10 road record. The Celtics need to take advantage of being at home, where they are 11-1, and should get a boost from the home crowd.
Former Team Factor - Both Kemba and Terry are facing their former teams. Players (other than Kyrie) like to face their former teams and play their best game as a sort of revenge factor. Sometimes it works out and they have a big game but sometimes, like Terry’s first game against the Celtics this season, they struggle because they try to do too much. Either way, teams always try to play hard to get a win for their teammates against former teams.
Officiating - Officiating is always an x-factor. Sometimes you don’t even notice the refs but other times, they very clearly make their presence known. Every crew calls the game differently and players never know what to expect. Sometimes they call it tight with a foul for every little bit of contact. Sometimes they let the teams play and allow a lot. Players need to adjust to how the game is being called and not allow the officiating to take their focus off of playing their game.