The Boston Celtics (24-25) get a prime opportunity to get back to .500 when they play host to the short-handed Charlotte hornets (25-23) at TD Garden. Boston is a -9 sportsbook favorite per the NBA betting odds for considerable reasons.
I’m hesitant to lay that much juice on Boston, but there seems less reason to make a case for Charlotte without three of its best players. Nine points is a lot, but I will bet the Celtics to blow out Charlotte this Easter Sunday evening.
Charlotte Hornets: Looking For Help
Charlotte has been one of the NBA’s surprises. Charlotte Hornets are 27-20-1 on the betting lines. However, they’ve just been stung by the injury bug as second-leading scorer F Gordon Hayward (foot) and key bench player G Malik Monk (foot) will be out for weeks.
The Hornets already lost rookie sensation LaMelo Ball (wrist) earlier. While they still put together an impressive run without him, losing a combined 32.7 points and two of the team’s top offensive options hurts a lot.
Charlotte will now have to rely on its depth to get through. The likes of F Miles Bridges and recent acquisition G Brad Wanamaker will have to step up. And Bridges did as he poured in 23 points on 8-for-12 shooting to go with 10 boards with just one turnover against Indiana.
Defensively, the team can continue pressuring its opponents to commit turnovers like they did to Indiana. The Pacers committed 20 to their 10 turnovers. Winning this TO battle has been Charlotte’s strength and they’ll need to continue this trend despite their injuries.
Boston Celtics: Toughen Up
Boston is no stranger to missing key players. The team has been battered by absences as well with players like G Kemba Walker, G Marcus Smart, and F/C Tristan Thompson going in and out of the lineup.
Most recently, star swingman Jaylen Brown (knee) was banged up. But according to coach Brad Stevens, he’s “OK” and will likely return to the lineup. The Celtics have struggled a lot this season thanks to a lack of additional scoring and overall physicality or “grit”.
Boston’s 31.8 bench points are the fifth-fewest in the league. Out of the bottom five teams, only the Nuggets have a winning record. And on physicality, the Celtics are playing too much on the perimeter and “soft” inside on both ends.
The team generally gives up more free throws than their opponents. In fact, the 23.5 attempts they give up are the fifth-most in the league. C Robert Williams has emerged as a legitimate big man, but he needs help inside as evidenced by Boston’s 22nd-ranked defense.
Let’s take betting stats with a grain of salt though I’d like to point out that Charlotte has a 15-8 record against teams below .500 while Boston is only 8-16 against teams above .500. Now for context, Charlotte was healthier in the year than Boston. Now it’s flipped.
Boston will be the healthier team though it’s still missing Thompson and F Semi Ojeleye (hip). The team has, at least, beaten on the subpar teams in recent outings. The Celtics have blown out the likes of Houston, Oklahoma City, and Orlando.
Charlotte, without three of its primary offensive options, could be just as bad as those teams. The Hornets already allow the second-most three-pointers per game and they have consistently struggled to score inside, which is Boston’s weakness.
This game will be contested primarily via shooting on the perimeter and Boston will devour Charlotte the same way the Harden-less Nets did. Nine points is a lot, but Boston is the right bet.