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Preview: The Hornets face Kemba Walker and the Celtics in a nationally-televised game

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Let’s hope Miles stays hot, PJ finds his groove, and Terry finally has a vintage revenge game against his former team.

Boston Celtics v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (29-30) vs Boston Celtics (32-28)

When: 1:00 pm EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC

How to watch: ESPN, Bally Sports Southeast

After spending his first eight seasons in Charlotte, Kemba Walker has spent the last two years as a member of the Boston Celtics. This game will be just his third time returning to Charlotte to face his former team. In his first game back to the Spectrum Center last season he scored just 14 points on 4-of-12 shooting, but in his second game in Charlotte he looked like the All-Star we know and love around here, scoring 22 points on 9-of-19 shooting with seven assists and three steals.

Boston Celtics overview

After a rocky start to the season, the Celtics are just now starting to click. They have won nine of their last 12 games, including blowing out the Hornets by 30 points on April 4th. Boston’s current hot streak has them sitting at No. 6 in the Eastern Conference.

The main reason the Celtics are hot right now is because they are also healthy, something that makes Hornets fans more than envious. Boston’s young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have each missed only a handful of games this year (including Brown missing three of the last four), but their guard rotations have been hampered by Marcus Smart missing 20 games and Kemba missing 22. They traded for wing Evan Fournier at the trade deadline and he almost immediately missed nine games due to Covid protocols. But at this point the Celtics are healthy and hitting their stride.

Jayson Tatum has been up and down over the last couple of weeks. His scoring output over his last his last eight games has been 53, 28, 32, 14, 44, 14, 15, and 38 points. He has been as up-and-down as Gamestop stock. Tatum has been just as likely to score 14 points as 40 points on any given night lately, so let’s hope this afternoon he settles for somewhere in the teens.

Meanwhile, Jaylen Brown has been consistently solid over his last six games, scoring 32, 26, 20, 24, 40, and 23 points. The combination of Tatum and Brown form a lethal combination that are hard for any team to stop, let alone a squad that’s as beaten up as the Hornets.

How the Hornets can win

The story for the Hornets lately has been the emergence of Miles Bridges as a scorer. He has scored in double digits in each of his last 13 games, including six games in which he has exceeded 20 points. More importantly, his field goal percentage on the season now stands at 51% which represents a quantum leap over the 42% he shot last season. I’d like to see Bridges challenge Tatum and Brown and make them work on the defensive end.

The wildcard for Charlotte is PJ Washington. While Miles has been consistently good lately, PJ has been streaky. In 12 games between March 20th and April 11th, Washington exceeded 13 points on just one occasion while being held to single digits seven times. This included going scoreless in 44 minutes against the Suns and netting just three points in the previous beatdown at Boston. But PJ has shown signs of finding his offensive game lately. Over his last four games he’s had outings of 23, 26, and 25 points. Charlotte will need the 20-point version of PJ Washington if they are going to have any chance against the Celtics.

This is also a revenge game for Terry Rozier who has dealt to the Hornets in 2019 as part of the Kemba Walker trade. Despite being something of an alpha who plays with a chip on his shoulder, last year Terry struggled against the Celtics and scored just three, 10, and 14 points against his former team. When these two teams faced off earlier this season he dropped 22 points, but it took him 19 shot attempts to get there. Let’s see if Scary Terry can finally have a vintage revenge game against Boston.

Poll

What do you predict for today’s game?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Hornets win easy
    (17 votes)
  • 19%
    Hornets win a close one
    (16 votes)
  • 19%
    Celtics win a close one
    (16 votes)
  • 40%
    Celtics win easy
    (33 votes)
82 votes total Vote Now