When: 7:30 P.M. EST
Where: Boston, Massachusetts, TD Garden
How to Watch: NBA League Pass, Fox Sports South
Was the win against the Chicago Bulls a turning point or will the Charlotte Hornets struggle for the consistency they need to win on a night to night basis? The answer for that question may come to light during the Hornets road game against the Boston Celtics (22-33). After a nice offensive game against the Oklahoma City Thunder and a quality defensive game against the Dallas Mavericks, the Hornets put together a balanced performance against the Bulls, holding their opponent to 15 points below their season average while scoring 98 of their own.
Taking on the Celtics won't be an easy task. Boston acquired Isaiah Thomas at the trade deadline to add to a very stacked guard rotation that includes rookie Marcus Smart (a defensive menace) and Avery Bradley (averaging 18 points per game in February). Although the team acquired the dynamic scoring Thomas, the Celtics recently lost Jared Sullinger for the season due to a stress fracture in his left foot. This news was followed by reports that the front office was unhappy with Sullinger's conditioning. Although not known as the best defender, Sullinger is another body the Celtics could have thrown Al Jefferson's way in the post.
A former Celtic himself, in four games as a Horn-cat Jefferson averaged 22 points and 9.5 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the floor against Boston. In short, this is a good match-up for Big Al as there aren't really any big men on Boston's roster that will be able to handle Jefferson one-on-one. If coach Brad Stevens decides to double Jefferson early on the left block, as usual the key will be players around him stepping up to make plays.
One of those players recently has been Mo Williams, who in his first three games for Charlotte is averaging 21 points and 6.7 assists on 46 percent shooting. His scoring compliments Al Jefferson perfectly as he's a dangerous catch and shoot player who has quickly been displaying his talents for the Hornets. He's already managing to fire off 4 catch and shoot 3-point attempts per game and is shooting a scorching 42 percent on those attempts. Overall he's shooting a solid 36 percent on 3-pointers, while taking a ridiculous eight attempts per contest.
Despite a potential great scoring night for Al Jefferson and the great start for his best friend Mo Williams, the Hornets have proven that they don't win games if they don't take care of the big three:
1. Preventing Offensive Rebounds
2. Low Turnovers
3. Playing Stifling Defense.
All three factors are related and equally important to the Hornets. Just look to the Chicago game where the Hornets collected 78 percent of defensive rebounds (slightly below their own league best), had just 9 turnovers, and held the NBA's 10th best offense to a measly 86 points. If the Hornets take care of those three things, they should get a much needed win against a quality Boston team just a game behind them in the playoff race.
One last note, be on the look out for a possible return of Bismack Biyombo who per Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer practiced in Boston today. Although he's most likely to return Sunday at Orlando, he might surprise us with a Boston comeback show.