National Basketball Association
Hornets-Celtics Preview
National Basketball Association

Hornets-Celtics Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 5:40 p.m. ET

The Charlotte Hornets have been nearly unbeatable at home over the last nine weeks but recent struggles on the road have hurt their chances of securing home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Celtics have the Eastern Conference's best home record over the last three months and if they can close the season with two wins in Boston they'll capture home court.

With home court so important to these teams, the Celtics look to move a step closer to hosting a playoff series while preventing the Hornets from opening at home when they meet Monday night.

Boston (47-33) and Charlotte (46-34) are separated by one game with two to play and the prospects of beginning a postseason series on their own court is enticing for both clubs.


Since Jan. 13, the Celtics are 18-2 in Boston while they've gone 10-12 on the road. The Hornets are 12-2 at home since Feb. 6, but have lost three of four on the road.

The only two meetings between the teams this season took place in Charlotte back in December, and the Celtics managed to win both.

Boston wasted a chance to take over sole possession of third place in the East on Saturday, losing 118-107 in Atlanta to drop one game back of the Hawks. The Celtics are now tied with Miami for fourth and home court seems likely to come down to Wednesday's finale when the Heat visit Boston. The Celtics have won the first two meetings with Miami, which visits Detroit on Tuesday.

Charlotte also blew a prime opportunity to move up in the standings Sunday, falling 113-98 to a Washington team that was eliminated from the playoffs the night before. The Hornets, who host Orlando in Wednesday's finale, shot 34.6 percent and were outscored 50-22 in the paint and 20-5 in transition.

''We played two months of really, really good basketball and we have two games here to get back to that,'' coach Steve Clifford said.

A quick turnaround may be beneficial for Charlotte, which has averaged 111.1 points and shot 43.5 percent from 3-point range in winning its last eight games in the second half of a back-to-back.

The Celtics also had a disappointing showing in their latest effort, squandering a 12-point lead and allowing the Hawks to shoot 52.3 percent and make 17 of 33 3-pointers to lose for the first time in five games.

Isaiah Thomas struggled to find his shot, going 6 of 19 from the floor to score 16 after reaching the 20-point mark in each of his previous 18 games. Playing one day after hurting his left wrist on a hard fall against Milwaukee, he missed 10 of 12 shots in the second half.

''We needed this win,'' Thomas said. ''We were up 12 at one point. In the fourth quarter, we just couldn't make shots. It was tough for us. It was a tough game for myself. I'm very frustrated with this. It hurts.''

Thomas' shot was also off in a 13-point win over the Hornets on Dec. 23, as he missed 7 of 10, but he made half of his 16 attempts in a 98-93 victory against Charlotte 11 days earlier.

The Celtics did a good job of frustrating Kemba Walker in those games, limiting the Hornets leading scorer to 26 points on 9-of-27 shooting.

Frank Kaminsky had 18 points and a career-high 11 rebounds Sunday and scored a personal-best 23 points in the last matchup with Boston.


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