Hornets Crossing Halfway Point of Road Trip in Boston

by Sam Perley
  • Charlotte Hornets (25-23) at Boston Celtics (24-25)
  • Sunday, April 4, 2021 at 6 PM EST (TD Garden)
  • Bally Sports and WFNZ 610 AM or 102.5 FM
  • Last time out: Celtics won, 109-92 on Dec. 31, 2019 in Charlotte

Hornets Navigate More Injuries in Route to Victory

With Malik Monk (right ankle sprain) added to the injury list following Thursday’s loss in Brooklyn, the Hornets then lost Gordon Hayward (right foot sprain) midway through their 114-97 win in Indiana the following evening. Charlotte’s bench made a resounding response to the adversity, racking up 55 points, with all but two coming from Miles Bridges, Cody Zeller and Brad Wanamaker. It was later revealed on Saturday afternoon that Hayward would be reevaluated in four weeks, providing another significant blow to a rotation that is already being stretched fairly thin. Look for Bridges, Cody Martin, Caleb Martin and Jalen McDaniels to soak up Hayward’s minutes while he’s sidelined.

Boston’s Defense at the Root of Disappointing Season

After finding themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals in three of the last four seasons, expectations were predictably sky high this season up in Beantown. But at the moment, the Celtics are currently clinging to the eighth seed in the standings thanks to a combination of injuries/absences, limited depth, perhaps a shortened offseason and then just flat-out underwhelming play this year. The biggest drop-off has been on the defensive end – Boston finished last season ranked fourth in the NBA in this category (106.5) and has since plummeted down to 22nd place at the moment (112.0).

Charlotte Prepping for Iso-Heavy Celtics Offense

The Hornets’ defense is in the midst of its best stretch of the season, allowing less than 100 points in regulation in four of its last seven appearances (105.0 rating; fourth best in the NBA since March 22). Tonight, the team will face a Celtics offense that is ninth in the league in frequency of isolation plays (7.8%), but just 25th in field-goal percentage in such situations (37.5%). Jayson Tatum is running the seventh-most iso plays of any player in the league right now (4.6 possessions on 34.7% shooting) and Charlotte will need to be ready to make the necessary, proper defensive adjustments to counter Boston’s 12th-ranked offense.

Preview Quote

“It’s going to have to be somebody different every night. It’s not going to be the same script every night. It may come from the starters, it may come from the bench, it may come from a combination of guys. Every single night, we’re going to have to figure it out. It’s just where we’re at in this season. The amount of injuries and the rhythm of the season right now, it’s just going to take a different combination every night.” – Hornets Head Coach James Borrego

Final Thoughts

Friday night’s win over the Pacers was just the latest example from the Hornets’ rotation stepping up, overcoming adversity and finding a way to win regardless of the circumstances this season. Now down LaMelo Ball, Monk and Hayward for the next several weeks, Charlotte will need to showcase that same sort of resolve for the foreseeable future starting this evening at TD Garden against a Celtics squad that is itching to get its season pointed in the right direction.

Additional Notes

F Semi Ojeleye (left side strain), G Romeo Langford (Post Health & Safety Protocols Reconditioning) and C Tristan Thompson (Health & Safety Protocols) were all out for Boston on Friday night. G Jaylen Brown (left knee contusion) left the game in the second half… The Celtics won all three games against Charlotte in the 2019-20 NBA season (average margin of victory: 21.3 points)… The Hornets have dropped seven straight road games in Boston (most recent win: 110-100 on April 11, 2016)… Boston is 5-8 since the All-Star Break after winning four consecutive games from Feb. 26 – March 4.

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