clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Boston Celtics (31-12) at Charlotte Hornets (11-32) Game #44 1/14/23

The Celtics look to win their 6th straight game as they visit the Charlotte Hornets.

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The Celtics look for their 6th straight win as they visit the Charlotte Hornets. This is the second of 4 games between these two teams this season. In the first meeting, the Celtics beat the Hornets in Boston 140-105. They will meet again in Charlotte in just two days on Monday, January 16 and they will play the final game in Boston on February 10. The Celtics won the series 3-1 last season, winning both in Charlotte and losing one in Boston.

The Celtics are playing in the 2nd game of a 3 game road trip and will finish up the trip in Charlotte on Monday. They play one game at home against the Warriors before heading out for another 3 game road trip. The Hornets are playing in the first game at home after a 4 game road trip. They play Boston at home twice and then head out on another 4 game road trip. This is the Hornets’ second set of consecutive games against the same team. They were swept in Toronto in their last 2 games.

The Celtics are 1st in the East and in the league. They are 3 games ahead of 2nd place Brooklyn, 3.5 games ahead of 3rd place Milwaukee and 4 games ahead of 4th place Cleveland. They are 14-7 on the road and 8-2 in their last 10 games. They are 14-4 against Eastern Conference opponents. They have won their last 5 games.

The Hornets are last in the East and only the Houston Rockets have a worse record at 10-31. The Hornets are tied with 14th place Detroit and are 5.5 games behind 13th place Orlando. They are 5-14 at home and 2-8 in their last 10 games. They are 6-11 against Eastern Conference opponents. They have lost their last 3 games and 6 of their last 7.

Jaylen Brown will miss his second straight game due to right adductor tightness. Danilo Gallinari remains out due to the torn ACL. Malcolm Brogdon is questionable due to personal reasons and will be a game time decision. I’m guessing that Robert Williams will start at center once again and Al Horford will return to play at the four. That’s just my guess.

For the Hornets, former Celtic Gordon Hayward is listed as doubtful. He has missed the last 5 games with a hamstring injury. Kelly Oubre, Jr injured his hand in the first week of the season and played through it but it didn’t get better and so he had surgery on the hand last week and will be out until at least February 8.

Probable Celtics Starters

PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Derrick White
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Robert Williams III

Celtics Reserves
Grant Williams
Sam Hauser
Payton Pritchard
Blake Griffin
Justin Jackson
Luke Kornet

2 Way Players
JD Davison
Mfiondu Kabengele

Danilo Gallinari (ACL) out
Jaylen Brown (adductor) out
Malcolm Brogdon (personal) questionable

Head Coach (Interim)
Joe Mazzulla

Probable Hornets Starters

PG: LaMelo Ball
SG: Terry Rozier
SF: PJ Washington
PF: Jalen McDaniels
C: Mason Plumlee

Hornets Reserves
James Bouknight
Kai Jones
Cody Martin
Nick Richards
Dennis Smith, Jr
JT Thor
Mark Williams

Two Way Players
Theo Maledon
Bryce McGowans

Gordon Hayward (hamstring) doubtful
Kelly Oubre, Jr (hand) out

Head Coach
Steve Clifford

Key Matchups

Marcus Smart vs LaMelo Ball
Ball has been playing very well in his third season with the Hornets. He is averaging 23.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He is shooting 42.0% from the field and 38.1% from beyond the arc. He missed the first game between these two teams. The Celtics need to slow him down as he is the Hornets’ top scorer.

Derrick White vs Terry Rozier
Rozier is averaging 21.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. He is shooting 41.2% from the field and 32.7% from beyond the arc. A former Celtic, Rozier always looks to play his best against his former team and the Celtics should expect to get his best game in this match. Rozier also missed the first game between these two teams.

Honorable Mention
Jayson Tatum vs PJ Washington, Jr.
Washington is averaging 15.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. He is shooting 43.5% from the field and 35.3% from beyond the arc. In the November 28 game, Washington had 16 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always a key to winning games. The Celtics must commit to playing tough team defense in each and every game. They have the players to be an elite defensive team, but they haven’t been committing to defense as much as they should. The Hornets are 22nd, averaging 112.2 points per game. The Celtics are 2nd, averaging 118.4 points per game. The Hornets are 27th with a defensive rating of 115.4 while the Celtics are 6th with a defensive rating of 110.9. The Celtics need to make defense a priority and work harder on that end of the court.

Rebound - Much of rebounding is effort and hustle. The Celtics need to crash the boards as a team and fight for every rebound. The Celtics must beat the Hornets to rebounds to give themselves extra possessions and to keep the Hornets from getting the same. The Hornets are 5th with 45.5 rebounds per game while the Celtics are 8th with 44.2 rebounds per game. The Hornets average 15.7 2nd chance points (6th) and so the Celtics have to work harder to get rebounds to prevent extra possessions and 2nd chance points for the Hornets.

Focus on Playing the Right Way - The Celtics need to stay focused on playing the right way. They have to focus on moving the ball carefully as the Hornets are 5th with 19 points off turnovers per game. The Celtics also have to focus on taking good shots and hitting them, on going after loose balls and on getting to the basket if their 3s aren’t falling. The Celtics need to have each others backs on defense and play as a team without any hero ball.

Don’t Underestimate - The Celtics can’t afford to come out with less than 100% effort because even though the Hornets are struggling somewhat, they are very capable of winning games if they are underestimated. Terry Rozier always wants to beat his old team and they will want to win one for him and for Gordon Hayward over their former team. The Celtics have let down against the Thunder and Magic and lost because of it. They need to take care of business in this game with no let down.

Next Man Up - The Celtics will once again be without Jaylen Brown and may also be without Malcolm Brogdon. Both players have been playing very well for the Celtics and other players must step up to make up for their absence. The Celtics got good contributions from Luke Kornet, Payton Pritchard and Derrick White in their last game. Jayson Tatum has been struggling with injuries and may or may not be able to have a big game in this one. Every player has to step up their game.

On the Road - The Celtics are playing in their second of 3 consecutive road games. Fatigue from travel and staying in hotels along with playing in a hostile arena can take a toll on players, especially younger players. The Celtics need to play through the distractions of playing on the road and keep their focus on playing hard and playing the right way.

Officiating - The officiating is always an x-factor. Some referees call the game tight and others let them play. Some favor the home team and others call it evenly. At times, it seems as though some of the Celtics focus more on the officiating than they do on playing the game. The Celtics have to play through whatever calls go against them and not allow bad calls or no calls to take away their focus on the game.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Celtics Blog Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Boston Celtics news from Celtics Blog