The Boston Celtics finally got their first win of the season, as they beat the Rockets in Houston. The Charlotte Hornets have done nothing but win this season, and are coming off a road win over the Brooklyn Nets. Here’s what we’re watching for as both teams play on the second night of a back-to-back in Charlotte on Monday night:
1. Pace: Pace, like most early-season stats, can be wonky with such a small sample-size to work with. But, it’s sort of instructive here, based on the style both teams play.
Charlotte wants to fly up and down the court. That allows them to take advantage of a bunch of players who can handle, pass and shoot. So far, the Hornets are fifth in the NBA in pace, playing about four possessions faster than Boston does.
The Celtics have been more methodical and are working on incorporating more sets. On the second night of a back-to-back, whose style wins out may go a long way towards who wins this game.
2. Attacking the interior: Charlotte is dead last in the NBA in defending two-point shots. Again, small sample-size, but the Hornets have allowed opponents to hit a whopping 59.5% of their two-pointers. Mason Plumlee is the only true center Charlotte runs with, and he’s not much of a rim protector.
Boston is 27th in two-point attempts and 24th in two-point percentage. This is a good chance for the Celtics to get on track by attacking the rim.
3. Who plays and what’s the rotation? This one is impossible to answer pregame. Jaylen Brown (left knee soreness) and Al Horford (left adductor strain) are questionable to play. Romeo Langford (left calf tightness) is doubtful. If there is even a questionable tag on any of these guys by warmups, they’ll probably sit. It’s too early in the season to let something minor become something major. If a few days off are needed, so be it.
That makes predicting the starting lineup, never mind the rotation, a really difficult task. The good news? Boston added a lot of depth for a reason. This could be a spot for Enes Kanter or Bruno Fernando or Jabari Parker to see some time. Aaron Nesmith can use the increased playing time to hopefully rediscover his shot too.
Let us know what you’ve got your eyes on for Celtics at Hornets. What are you hoping to see? Or maybe not see?