Looks Like Trap Game Wednesday for Short-Handed Celtics in Charlotte

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, December 26, 2017 8:43 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017 8:43 PM UTC

The Boston Celtics have barely been a .500 team since a red-hot start as they venture out on a quick one-game trip to Charlotte on Wednesday night.

Boston Celtics at Charlotte Hornets (+2, 206)Free NBA Pick: Hornets +2Best Line Offered: SportsBetting

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Wednesday is the second of three meetings this season between the Celtics and Hornets and the only one in Charlotte. On Nov. 10, Boston was in the midst of a huge hot streak and was a 3-point home favorite vs. the Hornets in a 90-87 victory and “push.” Charlotte outscored Boston 26-11 in the first quarter, but then the Celtics, who were down as many as 18, outscored the Hornets by that exact score in the fourth.

Boston star point guard Kyrie Irving left early in the first quarter after taking an elbow to the face from teammate Aron Baynes and didn’t return. Thus, Shane Larkin got an unusual amount of playing time and finished with 16 points and a plus-15 rating in 17 minutes. Jayson Tatum also had 16 points, Terry Rozier 15 and Jaylen Brown 10 points and 13 rebounds. Al Horford was out with a concussion.

Just one Hornets starter scored more than nine points in the loss: Kemba Walker with 20 but on 5-for-19 shooting. It was Boston’s 11th straight win at the time and Charlotte’s fourth loss in a row. The Hornets were without starting swingman Nicolas Batum due to a sprained left elbow. He’s back now.

Brown, Morris Hurting For Boston

It appears the Celtics, who are 11-8 after start 16-2, will be short-handed for Wednesday. On Christmas, the C’s lost 111-103 at home to Washington and saw Brown limp off in the fourth quarter what with is believed to be a sprained ankle. Fellow forward Marcus Morris returned from an eight-game absence due to knee troubles and really struggled through the issue with two points on 1-for-7 shooting in 16 minutes. He’s not playing Wednesday in the first of a back-to-back.

Charlotte remains without coach Steve Clifford, who is dealing with some health concerns. The Hornets just can’t get a sustained winning streak going. They have won three in a row twice but never four and have no back-to-back wins other than those two mini-runs. Charlotte tries for consecutive wins here as it beat the visiting Bucks on Saturday, 111-106 to split a home-and-home series. Dwight Howard had 21 points and 16 rebounds as his team rallied from down 18. Howard now has 18 double-doubles this season and is the NBA's active career leader with 684 of them. The Hornets are one of the NBA’s top rebounding teams because of Howard. See this tweet below regarding Boston’s rebounding woes of late.

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#Celtics rebounding:

Games 1-20: 2nd in NBA overall
2nd defensive rebs

Games 21-37: 24th overall
17th defensive

— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) December 26, 2017

The Verdict

Boston’s a better team, but Charlotte has been a solid home bet (10-9 ATS) compared to on the road (3-8-3 ATS). Not having Brown and Morris will hurt the Celtics’ depth, plus they could be looking ahead to Thursday’s big home game against the Houston Rockets. As it is Boston has failed to cover five of its past six vs. East teams. The Hornets, meanwhile, are well-rested having not played since Saturday. So even though Charlotte has dropped the past five in this series both overall and home, it is the NBA betting pick.

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