What: Charlotte Hornets (3-8) vs Boston Celtics (11-2)
When: 7:00pm Eastern
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Outfitting: Hornets–Icon (teal), Celtics–Statement (black)
Game Lines: Hornets +9.5, O/U 232.5
Hornets: Gordon Hayward-probable (hamstring), Nick Richards-out (concussion), Terry Rozier-out (groin), Cody Martin-out (knee), James Bouknight-out (knee), Frank Ntilikina-out (leg)
Celtics: Jaylen Brown-probable (groin)
If you’re a dual sport fan, you probably just watched the Carolina Panthers get steamrolled by the Dallas Cowboys yesterday. There’s a real danger of the same thing happening in a basketball game less than a mile away on Monday night. The Hornets, who have been struggling badly at home for whatever reason, take on a Celtics team that has the best record and best point differential in the league by a rather significant margin.
The Celtics are a juggernaut. They have the best defense in the league and the fourth best offense. The Hornets, in case you were unaware are a nice slightly-below-average on offense but sport the worst defense in the league by a not-insignificant margin. It’s about as wide of a gap as two teams could have. If there’s one bit of hope the Hornets can cling to, it’s that the Celtics are on the second night of a back to back with both games on the road. In the first game, they were taken to the wire by a Grizzlies team that is almost as downtrodden as the Hornets.
The Celtics did a weird thing where they went out this offseason and tried to make their team better. They took advantage of the Wizards fire sale to land Kristaps Porzinigis and inserted themselves into the Damian Lillard trade to get Jrue Holiday to replace the departed Marcus Smart. They got Holiday to be better Smart/Malcolm Brogdon and Porzingis to be a better Al Horford, and they still have Al Horford. Believe it or not, that’s made them a better team so far.
It’s still Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown’s team though. Tatum is arguably a top 3 or 5 player in the league right now. He leads the Celtics with 27.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, and he chips in another 3.9 assists per game as well. The Celtics will often simply give him the ball and ask him to make a play, and more often than not, he delivers. Brown is the perfect Robin and is averaging 22.9 points per game.
The Celtics are only an average-ish team from beyond the arc in terms of percentage, but they fire more threes up than any team in the league. The Hornets seem to be the antidote for any team’s outside shooting woes. According to the NBA’s tracking data, they aren’t too too terrible about the volume of wide open and open threes, but for whatever reason, teams are chucking it up and the shots are falling. With how much the Celtics like to let it fly, there’s a chance this game gets really ugly.
All that said, the Hornets have had some weirdly good performances against the Celtics in recent seasons, and maybe this will be one of those times.