Where: TD Garden; Boston, Massachusetts
When: 7:30 p.m. EST
How to watch: FOX Sports Carolinas, FOX Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Charlotte Hornets will look to break a 3-game losing streak on Friday night when they travel to Boston to take on the 10-2 Celtics.
Steve Clifford’s bunch will be looking to get the sour taste of Tuesday’s fourth-quarter collapse against the New York Knicks out of their mouths. Charlotte held an 11-point lead heading into the fourth, but the team was outscored 35-19 by the surprisingly hot Knicks.
Offensively, the Hornets had one of their best showings of the season against the Knicks as they scored 113 points while knocking down 15-of-37 from 3-point range. Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, and Malik Monk all scored 21 points in the loss.
Anytime the Hornets score 113 points, they should expect to walk away with a victory, but the team’s defensive woes continued. New York shot 60 percent from the field for the game and drained 12-of-25 3-point attempts. The Knicks had six players in double-figures with Kristaps Porzingis leading the way with 28.
The Celtics will enter Friday’s tilt with the best record in the NBA and in the midst of a 10-game winning streak. Boston was expected to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference prior to the start of the season, but the team’s success is still a bit surprising considering the injuries they’ve dealt with early in the season.
Gordon Hayward fractured his ankle on opening night and will miss the rest of the season. Marcus Morris has only played in three games this season due to knee soreness. Marcus Smart has missed two games with an ankle injury. Al Horford missed Wednesday’s game against the Lakers with a concussion and Jayson Tatum injured his ankle in the same game and missed the entire second half.
The Celtics have already announced that Horford will miss Friday’s game while Tatum has been listed as questionable.
If Tatum misses the game, Boston will be without their third and fourth leading scorers which means the onus will fall even more heavily on the shoulders of Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown.
Through his team’s first 12 games, Irving is averaging 22.0 points, 5.7 assists, and 2.08 steals per game. He’s clearly the Celtics’ leader on the floor and the most important piece to the team’s success. If the Hornets are going to pull the upset, Clifford’s going to have to come up with a plan to bottle up Kyrie.
Brown, meanwhile, is enjoying a breakout year in only his second season in the NBA. The 21-year-old from Cal is averaging 14.8 points and 6.8 rebounds as he’s played an essential role for Boston in the early-going. Look for him to play a big role on Friday night if Tatum is out.
In order for the Hornets to get the win, the team defense must improve and they must continue to stay hot offensively against one of the best defensive teams in the league.
There’s good news, however, as Rick Bonnell reports Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will start tonight after returning from another excused absence.
.@hornets coach Steve Clifford will start Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Celtics Friday. Minutes TBD.— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) November 9, 2017
Hopefully, they’re up for the challenge.