#503 Boston Celticsvs.#504 Charlotte Hornets
Written by Chris Kubala
NBA: Saturday, October 29, 2016, Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, North Carolina, 7 pm ET
Line: Boston -3; Over/Under: 204.5
A battle of Eastern Conference foes takes precedence down in the Tar Heel State. The Boston Celtics continue a road swing as they travel to face the Charlotte Hornets Saturday night. Both teams play their third game in four nights. Boston fell 105-99 on the road to the Bulls in the Windy City Thursday. Charlotte was in South Beach Friday night facing the Heat in a Southeast Division matchup. The Celtics hold a 54-41 advantage in the all-time regular season series between the teams. Boston won four of the last five meetings, including two of three last season.
Boston, after letting a big lead nearly slip away in their home opener against the Nets Wednesday, didn’t have enough in the tank to win in Chicago against the Bulls. The Celtics were flat in the early going, trailing by 10 after one quarter. That was too much to overcome in the game. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 25 points in the loss. Avery Bradley contributed 16 points, six rebounds and five assists while Jae Crowder had 14 points plus six boards. Al Horford chipped in 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists but battled foul trouble. Boston shot an even 50 percent from the floor but hurt itself by shooting 15 of 24 at the line. The Celtics also took a beating on the glass, losing the rebounding battle 55-36.
The Celtics come into this contest 10th in the league in scoring offense with 110.5 points per game. Boston is just 20th in rebounding with 41.5 boards per game but stand tied for 4th with 29 assists per contest. Thomas leads four Celtics in double figure scoring averages with 25 points plus 6.5 assists and two steals per game. Crowder chips in 17.5 points plus 5.5 boards a contest. Bradley puts up 16.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists a night. Horford has averaged 11 points, six rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. Tyler Zeller, Jaylen Brown, Amir Johnson, Terry Rozier and Gerald Green are key pieces in the rotation. Boston leads the league in field goal percentage by shooting 52.1 percent from the floor. The Celtics are 9th in three pointers per game with 9.5 while the team is 10th in three point percentage as they hit 34.5 percent from beyond the arc. Boston needs to tighten up defensively as they currently stand 20th in scoring defense, allowing 111 points per game.
After two straight on the road to open the season, the Hornets return home to the Hive looking to open the home slate with a victory. Charlotte faced Miami in a division matchup last night that could prove crucial at the end of the season. Division record proved to be the thorn in the side for the Hornets last year as Miami ended up with the division crown based on it after the Hornets, Heat and Hawks posted identical records. Charlotte put together a solid performance against Milwaukee on the road in their opener. The Hornets built an eight point lead after one quarter that ballooned to 15 at halftime and weren’t challenged seriously the rest of the way.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist led the Hornets on the offensive end of the floor with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Big man Roy Hibbert was impressive in his debut with the team, collecting 15 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Kemba Walker added 17 points plus eight assists, Marvin Williams collected a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds and Cody Zeller had 15 points off the bench. Charlotte won despite shooting 44.9 percent from the field including a 7 of 23 performance from three point range. The Hornets went 20 of 24 at the stripe while holding a 51-46 advantage on the glass in the victory. Charlotte recorded 10 blocks. The Hornets’ depth will be tested, putting pressure on guys like Nicolas Batum, Marco Belinelli, Spencer Hawes and Ramon Sessions to produce.
The Celtics started as a favorite in all three games this season with getting the early nod here. The line with the Bulls did swing back to favoring Chicago by a point or so. Charlotte is going to be a bit fatigued playing the second game of a back to back, especially after being on the road Friday night and then flying home. Boston had that same issue Thursday night and it manifested in a loss for Brad Stevens and company. The Celtics are a good team and with a little extra rest, that might be enough to propel them to a win over a tough Charlotte club.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.