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Preview: Terry Rozier and Kemba Walker square off in a Hornets-Celtics revenge game

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Big-name players face their former teams in a big-time Eastern Conference showdown.

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

What: Charlotte Hornets (25-23) at Boston Celtics (24-25)

When: 6:00 pm EST

Where: TD Garden; Boston, MA

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

It’s the Terry Rozier-Kemba Walker revenge game! Rozier spent his first four NBA seasons with the Celtics before joining the Hornets in a 2019 sign-and-trade that sent Walker from Charlotte to Boston.

Kemba will remain beloved in these parts for the years of outstanding play he gave to some really bad Hornets teams. His departure from Charlotte has resulted in one of those fan-player relationships where the vast majority of us can still root for Kemba, except for when he’s playing the Hornets. This is still a revenge game for Walker, though, so don’t be surprised if he comes out gunning in this one.

This would’ve been an even bigger revenge game when factoring in Gordon Hayward bolted Boston for Charlotte this past offseason, but Hayward will miss the next four weeks with a foot sprain and won’t face his former team, which just sucks.

This is a scheduling quirk, but this is the first of three times these teams will play each other this season with the other two matchups coming later in the month of April. This is a potentially pivotal game in the Eastern Conference standings with both of these teams in the thick of the jumbled mess that narrowly separates the No. 4 seed from No. 8.

Boston Celtics Overview

The Celtics have been a major disappointment this year and are sitting on a sub-.500 record. Yes, both Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart have missed 19 games this season, but welcome to professional sports. Boston is just 4-7 over its last 11 games and is trying desperately to right the ship. At the trade deadline they acquired Evan Fournier, Moritz Vagner, and Luke Kornet and shipped out Daniel Theis, Jeff Teague, Javonte Green, and two second round picks. GM Danny Ainge is hoping this will be the secret sauce that restores the Celtics to their former status as one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference.

Boston’s offense is driven by the combined 49.8 points per game their special young wings average. Jayson Tatum (25.3 PTS, 6.9 REB, 4.3 AST) recently turned 23 and has been an All-Star in each of the last two seasons. Jaylen Brown (24.5 PTS, 5.7 REB, 3.6 AST) earned his first All-Star nod this year, his age-24 season. Kemba Walker (18.1 PTS, 4.8 AST) has really declined as a shooter this year. His 39.7% shooting percentage is his worst since 2014-15 and his 35.4% shooting from the 3-point line isn’t scaring opposing defenses.

New arrival Evan Fournier went scoreless in his Boston debut on March 29th and missed all 10 of his shots, but has since found his form after dropping 23 points on Friday, including going 7-of-11 from downtown. He can be a difference maker when he gets hot.

The Celtics bigs aren’t anything to worry about, especially after Daniel Theis was traded away. Theis’ departure has opened the door for more playing time for Robert Williams who scored 20 points on 9-of-9 shooting with nine rebounds, eight assists, and two blocks in Boston’s last game. William flashes promise at times, but he’s also inconsistent.

The Celtics have been quite good at home this year. They are 14-9 at TD Garden and allow 3.6 fewer points at home than they do on the road. They have also been better offensively since the All-Star break averaging 114.1 points per game when compared to the 111.7 points they averaged before it.

How the Hornets Can Win

While I’ve already highlighted the Celtics two stellar young wings, let’s see what Miles Bridges and PJ Washington can do in this one. Getting solid play on both ends of the court from Charlotte’s own young wings will be essential in at least partially offsetting what Jayson and Jaylen will likely do in this one.

PJ has struggled scoring as of late. He had shot just 8-of-31 (25.8%) from the floor in the four games leading up to Friday’s contest against the Pacers when he went 6-of-15 for 13 points. He has been especially bad from the 3-point line having his just six of his last 30 attempts (20%).

Miles has been solid over his last five games by averaging 13.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. During this stretch he has hit 25-of-49 shots (51%) and 10-of-25 3-pointers (40%). He’s going to need to keep rolling against the Celtics.

With Gordon Hayward, LaMelo Ball, and Malik Monk on the shelf, both PJ Washington and Miles Bridges are going to need to step up if the Hornets are going to pull of an important road win.

Poll

What do you predict from tonight’s game?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Hornets win easy
    (4 votes)
  • 36%
    Hornets win a close one
    (34 votes)
  • 26%
    Celtics win a close one
    (25 votes)
  • 32%
    Celtics win easy
    (31 votes)
94 votes total Vote Now