Boston Opens Defense of Eastern Conference Crown
The Boston Celtics begin their drive to a second straight trip to the NBA Finals when they play host to the Charlotte Hornets in a preseason contest on Sunday.
Boston fell to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals last season but is considered a top contender to win the crown this season. Charlotte lost in the Play-In Tournament in the Eastern Conference and is hoping to get farther in the postseason in 2022-23. If you’re looking to bet online on this preseason affair, check out our in-depth preview of the contest.
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Hornets Go Back To The Future with Clifford
The Charlotte Hornets have been on the cusp of a playoff berth with a young team over the last couple of seasons, so now they’ve got a coach that’s got them there before as Steve Clifford has returned to the bench to guide the Hornets. Clifford was previously the Hornets’ coach from 2013-14 to 2017-18, taking the team to the postseason twice in those five seasons.
He’ll have one of the more exciting players in the league running the show in LaMelo Ball, who is entering his third season in the league. Ball averaged 20.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 7.6 assists a season ago, and he can turn it up offensively when he gets hot. Ball in the open floor is one of the more exciting things to see in the NBA, and the Hornets are hoping to get out and running a lot this season and be one of the top NBA title contenders.
Guard Terry Rozier is also a player who can get hot from the outside and take over a game. Rozier averaged 19.3 points and 4.5 assists a game in 2021-22, shooting 37.4% from 3-point range.
One big question for the Hornets to answer early on is who will fill the shoes of departed forward Miles Bridges, who averaged 20.2 points and 7.0 rebounds a season ago and was a dependable wing on the fast break for Ball to look for. Bridges was a free agent and then arrested on domestic violence charges, and he’s not currently in the league.
Celtics Dealing with Changes
The Boston Celtics have had a tumultuous offseason, though it hasn’t been due to the team’s roster. In fact, Boston added to its strong defensive team by acquiring guard Malcolm Brogdon (19.1 points, 5.9 assists), considered one of the better defensive guards in the league.
No, the change was at head coach, where Ime Udoka will serve a one-year suspension in 2022-23 and be replaced at the helm by Joe Muzzulla on an interim basis. Udoka was suspended by the franchise for violations of team rules just before preseason practices began for the defending Eastern Conference champions.
“It’s a lot going on,” Celtics guard Jaylen Brown said of the upcoming season with the coaching change. “Some we could control, some we couldn’t. The best we can say is to move on.”
Brown was a big reason for the team’s run to the NBA Finals, averaging 23.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He teams with forward Jayson Tatum (26.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists) to form one of the better young duos in the game.
Despite the suspension of Udoka, the Celtics are still near the top of any NBA title odds list you’ll find.
Hornets vs Celtics Prediction
The Boston Celtics have the more stable roster despite the change at head coach, and the team’s solid defense should be able to keep the young Charlotte Hornets from doing a lot of scoring in this one. Look for the Celtics to come away with a preseason-opening victory at home.
When doing your NBA betting, take Boston to earn a win at home.