Tuesday, April 23, 2024

NBA Preview: Charlotte Hornets (15-41) at Boston Celtics (39-14)

The NBA-leading Boston Celtics will be without All-Star Jaylen Brown when they host the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Brown collided with teammate Jayson Tatum while both players were chasing down a rebound in the second quarter of Boston’s 106-99 victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday. Tatum’s right elbow hit Brown on the left side of his face during the collision. Brown left the game and did not return.

Multiple reports said Brown could be out through the All-Star break. The Celtics have four games remaining before the Feb. 17-19 break.

Brown was recently named an Eastern Conference reserve for this year’s NBA All-Star Game. He’s averaging 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game this season.

Tatum is listed as questionable for Friday with a non-COVID illness, while Marcus Smart (ankle) will miss his ninth straight game. The good news for the Celtics is that Al Horford (knee swelling) and Robert Williams III (ankle sprain) were both upgraded to probable for Friday after missing Wednesday’s win.

The Celtics added Mike Muscala before Thursday’s trade deadline in a deal with the Thunder, shipping Justin Jackson and draft picks to Oklahoma City.

Boston’s depth was on display during Wednesday’s win against Philadelphia. Despite missing three Smart, Horford and Williams, the Celtics received 41 points from their bench players and had six players score in double figures.

Blake Griffin made five 3-pointers, including his first three 3-point attempts. The Celtics, who have won four of their last five, made 19 of their 35 3-point attempts overall.

Charlotte enters Friday’s matchup on a five-game losing streak and has lost its last six road games.

It will be the fourth time the Hornets and Celtics have played this season. Tatum scored 51 points in the last meeting, a 130-118 Boston victory on Jan. 16. Jalen McDaniels, who was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday in a three-team deal, led Charlotte with 26 points in the loss.

In the McDaniels trade, the Hornets received Svi Mykhailiuk and two second-round picks and the Portland Trail Blazers landed Matisse Thybulle.

The Celtics also beat the Hornets 140-105 in Boston on Nov. 28 and 122-106 on the road Jan. 14.

Charlotte, which is fighting with Detroit to stay out of the bottom spot in the Eastern Conference standings, is coming off Wednesday’s 118-104 loss to Washington. The game was tied at halftime, but the Wizards took control by outscoring the Hornets 27-15 in the third quarter.

Washington’s Kristaps Porzingis scored 36 points and matched his career high by making eight 3-pointers.

Charlotte ranks last in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage (32.1 percent).

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