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Preview: Hornets host rolling Celtics for front end of two-game set

Hoping for a closer result than the first Hornets-Celtics game of the year.

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (11-32) vs. Boston Celtics (31-12)

When: 7:00 PM EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, N.C

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Outfitting: Hornets — Statement (purple); Celtics — Association (white)

Injury report

BOS: Jaylen Brown (adductor strain), OUT; Danilo Gallinari (ACL surgery), OUT.

CHA: Gordon Hayward (hamstring soreness), DOUBTFUL; Kelly Oubre Jr. (hand sprain), OUT.

The Charlotte Hornets look to end a three-game skid as they play host to the Boston Celtics, winners of five-straight and the current owners of the best record in the NBA.

In the first meeting of the season between the Hornets and Celtics, Boston claimed a 140-105 victory behind a 78-point first half that was powered by a 24-4 run in the first quarter. The Celtics effectively put the game away within the first 20 minutes and coasted to victory in the second half despite a career-high 24 points from Jalen McDaniels. Jayson Tatum finished with 35 that night and Marcus Smart had 22 points and doled out 15 assists.

Boston holds the No. 2 offense and No. 6 defense, giving them the league’s best net rating (6.3) by a comfortable margin. They’re first in assist-to-turnover ratio and fourth in effective field goal percentage. On top of that, they’ve got a pair of all-NBA caliber wings in MVP candidate Jayson Tatum and elite scorer Jaylen Brown.

Tatum’s 30.6 points per game rank fifth in the NBA and Brown follows that up with 27.2 points per game on 49.8 percent from the field, converting rim and mid-range attempts in the 83rd and 89th percentile among wings, per Cleaning The Glass. Rarely do NBA fans witness two scorers of this level on the same roster, though to Charlotte’s benefit, Brown will miss tonight’s game after recently suffering an adductor strain.

Robert Williams III recently returned to the lineup, bolstering Boston’s defense even further. His minutes have been limited and he just started his first game this week, but he’ll be a full-go tonight. The Hornets are third in the league in field goal attempts at the rim per game, though that will likely be harder to take advantage of with Williams and Al Horford roaming in the paint.

Charlotte enters tonight losers of three straight and eight of the last 10 games. In the second of the two losses to Toronto, Mark Williams received his first DNP-CD since Dec. 23 and Nick Richards took his place in the rotation. Going forward, the backup center spot will likely be fluid and whichever backup is in a better rhythm will play while the other sits. At least Mason Plumlee is having the best stretch, and perhaps the best season overall, of his entire career.

Charlotte and Boston will face off three times over the next month, including twice in the next three days. Get used to seeing the green and white between now and Feb. 10.