Game Preview: Celtics at Hornets
BOSTON – Doc Rivers is 0-1 against his son, Austin, during his NBA career. He hopes that he and his Boston Celtics (36-30) can even that record up at 1-1 when they take on the Hornets (22-46) at 8 p.m. tonight in New Orleans Arena.
The one caveat to a Boston win tonight is that while it would be against Austin’s team, it wouldn’t be against Austin himself. He suffered a fractured right hand on March 6 and may miss the rest of the season as he recovers.
Austin was healthy for New Orleans’ win over the Celtics on Jan. 16 in TD Garden. He was one of three Hornets reserves who scored at least eight points to help down the C’s.
Following that game, Austin was asked if he planned on trash talking his dad about the victory. His answer was, “I’m going to go into the locker room right now and say, ‘What’s up?’ to my dad. It’s my household now.”
That’s a bold statement that Doc would love to reverse tonight. He and his Celtics should have plenty of motivation to make that happen.
Boston is not only attempting to redeem itself against New Orleans tonight. It will also be attempting to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Miami Heat on Monday. The Celtics led the Heat by as many at 17 points in the game and as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter. LeBron James, however, sparked a Heat comeback to send the C’s to a heartbreaking loss.
As everyone who follows the NBA knows, every win and every loss at this time of the year could play an enormous role in the playoff picture. The C’s now sit in the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and they trail the Knicks by 3.5 games in the Atlantic Division.
Only 16 games remain on Boston’s schedule to move up in the standings. In order to do so, they must beat teams like the Hornets, who have lost seven of their last eight games.
New Orleans is coming off of a 21-point, blowout loss Monday night at the hands of the Warriors. The Celtics would love to board their plane to Dallas tonight having handed the Hornets a similar blowout loss. That would help the C’s in the standings, and it would also give Doc his first victory against his son’s NBA team.
The Return of Garnett
We’re likely to see the full-fledged version of Kevin Garnett tonight for the first time in 10 days. Garnett hasn’t played in a game in a full week, and he has played only 41 total minutes since March 10.
KG missed Boston’s last two games with the combination of a left adductor strain and an illness. He did fly with the team yesterday as they traveled to New Orleans and is scheduled to play tonight against the Hornets.
Boston hasn’t seen a dramatic drop off in performance without Garnett. It dominated Charlotte on Saturday and handled the streaking Heat for the majority of Monday’s game. That being said, the return of KG’s defense, shooting and overall presence should be a shot in the arm for the C’s.
Eric Gordon is Back
The Celtics haven’t played against Eric Gordon since he was traded to the Hornets prior to last season. Believe it or not, they haven’t played against him since Dec. 27, 2009.
Gordon has been hampered by knee problems for the majority of the past few seasons. He missed the first 29 games of this season with knee issues but has played in 29 games since returning in late December. Gordon does not play in the second night of back-to-backs for precautionary reasons, which caused him to miss Monday’s loss to the Warriors.
He will be back on the floor tonight and the Celtics will be forced to deal with him. Gordon is a legitimate scorer who puts up nearly 17 points a night. He has struggled with his shot this season, but Boston will still need to give him plenty of attention at the defensive end.
What Does Green Contribute?
If you watched Monday’s game against Miami, you watched Jeff Green turn into a superstar for a night. He scored 43 points against the Heat, including nine made field goals in the restricted area.
No one could stop Green in that game, which made many onlookers wonder why they haven’t seen such play from Green on a consistent basis. There’s a chance that he realized his true potential during Monday’s game and that he will play with the same aggression and confidence from here on out. There’s also a chance that he could revert to the up-and-down play we’ve seen from him throughout this season. Let’s hope for the former.