Many fans in Boston are still attempting to recover from Monday night’s heartbreaking loss to the Miami Heat. The Celtics don’t have too much longer to sulk though. They head down to New Orleans to take on the streaking Hornets tonight.
Unfortunately for the Hornets (22-46), they are streaking in the wrong direction. They have lost four consecutive games by an average of 10.5 points per game. One of the greatest reasons for the Hornets’ struggle this year has been the inefficiency at the offensive end. The soon to be New Orleans Pelicans average 94 ppg, ranking 25th in the NBA.
The Celtics had little trouble scoring Monday night against the Heat despite the loss, thanks in part to Jeff Green. Green exploded for a career-high 43 points, doing it in a multitude of ways. He knocked down five 3-pointers, went to the charity stripe 13 times, and relentlessly attacked the basket possession after possession.
Green’s increased level of aggression was needed with the absence of Kevin Garnett. Garnett sat out against Miami with flu-like symptoms and a groin injury. Garnett is expected to return tonight though.
That’s a good sign, because despite the Hornets’ overall record, they defeated the Celtics at the Garden, 90-78, back in January. Garnett’s return will also bring about an interesting individual matchup between veteran and rookie. Anthony Davis, first overall pick in this past year’s draft, squares off against his admitted childhood idol, Garnett.
In that first meeting, the younger Davis held his own against the savvy veteran. Davis finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Garnett had 15 points and four rebounds.
Another unique matchup that stemmed from that January clash was between the father and son combination of Doc and Austin Rivers. The younger Rivers won’t be a part of tonight’s meeting though, as he is out with a broken hand.
That relieves some of the emotional burden the Celtics’ head coach faced before, and Rivers can solely focus on winning the game. A win tonight would push the Celtics up to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.