When: 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Charlotte Hornets are coming off a gut wrenching week of basketball. They only played two games, but both were losses and both were gut punches for different reasons. The Hornets looked listless and disinterested in Cleveland. Combine that with an ability to make even the most wide open of looks, and you get steamrolled by a team that had only one game to that point in the season. Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers was more competitive, but the Hornets still couldn’t get over the hump. On its face, that’s fine. The 76ers are a good team with three All Stars. But losing a game where one of your players scores 60 points is tough to stomach.
Unfortunately the Hornets are entering an unforgiving stretch of games. Tonight’s foe, the Boston Celtics, haven’t lived up to their billing this season, but that doesn’t make them an easy opponent by any means. They’ve notched wins against the Raptors, Bucks, and 76ers amid offensive struggles and inconsistent play.
That offensive inconsistency is the clearest path for a Hornets victory tonight. Boston currently boasts the best defensive rating in the league, but that’s counterbalanced by their 27th ranked offense. Their offense has been so bad that the Celtics actually have a worse net rating than the Hornets so far this season. The problem lies in their shot selection. The Celtics are only attempting 24.3 shots per game in the restricted area, third fewest in the league. Those shots are instead coming from the mid range, where the Celtics attempt more shots than all but five teams. The Hornets should be able to capitalize on that trend with disciplined switching and baiting the opposition into 2-point jumpers.
Of course, scoring could be a major problem. Hornets not named Kemba Walker combined to score 59 points on 32.3% shooting from the field and 23.5% shooting from three. On the whole, the Hornets as a team have struggled mightily from the field in recent games. In their two most recent losses, the Hornets have shot 38.7% from the field and 25.0% from three. The Celtics aren’t the best team to expect that to change course, but stranger things have happened.
This game has all the makings of an ugly one in some capacity. There’s a very good chance one or both of these teams struggle to get anything going offensively. Being in the friendly confines of Spectrum Center gives the Hornets an advantage, and hopefully it’s enough to get them back on the winning track.