Charlotte at Boston
When: 7:30 PM ET, Friday, December 16, 2016
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Mass
BOSTON – (Wire Service Preview) – A pair of Eastern Conference hopefuls suffering through three-game losing streaks meet in Boston on Friday night when the Celtics host the Charlotte Hornets. Boston has lost four of five overall but all four defeats have come by seven points or fewer, including a 108-101 setback at San Antonio on Wednesday.
Leading scorer Isaiah Thomas (groin) has missed four straight games for the Celtics but is hoping to return Friday, when the squad looks to build off admirable – but losing – efforts against the Spurs and three nights earlier at Oklahoma City. “We’re still trying to figure it out,” forward Jae Crowder told ESPN on Wednesday. “Haven’t got there yet, obviously, and it shows in games like this. From top to bottom, we just haven’t figured it out.” The Hornets are 0-3 thus far on their five-game road trip after Wednesday’s 109-106 defeat at Washington. Charlotte shot 51.4 percent but turned the ball over 18 times and was outscored in the paint by a whopping 56-28 margin.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Charlotte), CSN New England (Boston)
ABOUT THE HORNETS (14-12): Losing the battle in the paint against a Wizards team that is not exactly known for its physicality prompted coach Steve Clifford to urge his team to toughen up. “The game came down to physical play. If guys aren’t willing to be more physical, we’ll be an up-and-down team, we’ll struggle to make the playoffs,” Clifford told reporters. “If we want to play with the physicality we choose to at times, we have a chance to be a good team.” Nicolas Batum led the way offensively with 20 points against the Wizards and he is 12-of-24 from 3-point distance over the past five games.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (13-12): Marcus Smart received another start in place of Thomas while fellow guard Avery Bradley continued to do his best to fill the void. Bradley finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals against the Spurs and he is averaging 21.3 points while shooting 54.2 percent from the field in the last four games. The seven-year pro is also 13-for-22 from beyond the arc with Thomas out.
1. Bradley had a season-high 31 points and 11 rebounds in a 104-98 win at Charlotte on Oct. 29.
2. Hornets PG Kemba Walker is averaging 23.6 points while making 43 percent of his 3-pointers at home.
3. Boston has won four straight games at Charlotte.