When: 7:30 p.m. EST
Where: TD Garden; Boston, MA
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The last time the Hornets visited the Celtics didn’t go well. The Hornets lost by 16, but that wasn’t at all indicative of the disparity between the two teams on that day. The Celtics held a 30+ point lead at multiple times throughout the second half. It was only a late run in garbage time that made the score line look semi-respectable.
That drubbing of the Hornets aside, the Celtics still aren’t the team they were supposed to be this season, but that may be changing. They still sit fifth in the Eastern Conference standings, but they are winners of six of their last seven games, with the one loss coming in a nail biter against the Warriors.
However, the Hornets will likely catch a break on the injury front tonight. Kyrie Irving doesn’t look like he’ll play, meaning Boston will be without their best scorer and play maker. If he doesn’t play, Terry Rozier will probably get the start. Rozier is a great backup point guard, but he’s not a tremendous offensive threat, as much as he tries to be. He and Marcus Smart do make a suffocating tandem of guards on the defensive end, and they’re backed by the interior presences of Al Horford and Aron Baynes.
Without Irving, the Celtics will depend on a committee approach to generate offense. That will probably result in Jayson Tatum and Marcus Morris shooting dozens of jumpers while Marcus Smart inexplicably turns into a good 3-point shooter like he is wont to do against the Hornets.
The Celtics tend to settle for a lot of pull-up jump shots. If the Hornets play sound defense, they could limit the Celtics offense. The big question is if the Hornets can generate enough offense to overcome the Celtics top five defense.