What: Charlotte Hornets (3-0) vs Boston Celtics (1-2)
When: 7:00 pm EDT
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Hornets are feeling themselves right now. They’re 3-0 and are fresh off handling one of the top contenders for this year’s title in their own building. Through just three games, we’ve already seen Miles Bridges, LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Kelly Oubre, Ish Smith, and Cody Martin take over different stretches of different games to pull the Hornets to win. They’ve already shown how deep they are, and they haven’t even truly had Terry Rozier healthy and at full strength.
Their next test is a Boston Celtics team that is in kind of a weird spot. They’re anchored by Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart. Brown has been the most effective of the three, leading the team with 27.5 points per game, but he missed Sunday’s win over the Rockets as he deals with some knee pain. Tatum had started slowly, but he had a good game in Houston. Smart has not been good, but he’s been a thorn in the Hornets side before and is not one to be written off.
The rest of the Celtics roster is this weird combination of good-not-great veterans and kinda-good young guys. They lost Evan Fournier to free agency and replaced him with Dennis Schroeder. A pair of unrelated trades netted the team Al Horford and Josh Richardson to replace the departing Kemba Walker. Richardson has shot the ball well but has played a rather limited role. Horford and Schroeder are struggling with their shots and are just kinda there.
In all, it’s led to a huge yoyo of a season so far. The Celtics battled in a double overtime loss to the Knicks on opening night. They followed that up with a 32-point loss to the Raptors that saw them get outscored 55-25 over the final 18 minutes and change of the game. They finally got their first win against the Rockets last night, but it’s the Rockets. Their struggles have largely been on the offensive end—their 99.4 offensive rating and 16.9% turnover rate are both sixth worst in the league so far.
The Hornets high pressure defense should be able to get some turnovers out the Celtics and get out and run, just like they have in their first three games. They have a good chance to make it four straight wins to start the season, especially if they are able to limit at least one of Tatum or Brown.