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Hornets Look to Beat Celtics

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As the Eastern Conference basketball season draws to a close, the 20-60 Charlotte Hornets prepare to take on the formidable Boston Celtics with a 62-17 record.

Boston comes into the game on the second night of a back-to-back after suffering a loss to the New York Knicks on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Charlotte builds on the momentum of a thrilling 115-114 win over the Atlanta Hawks as 8.5-point road underdogs.

Hornets Look to Finish Season with Wins

The Hornets bid farewell to their home court for the season, concluding their 2023-24 campaign with away games at Boston and Cleveland. Aiming to finish 13th in the East standings, they are ahead of only the Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons.

Looking ahead to next season, the Hornets are looking to bolster their roster around the dynamic duo of LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller. In their recent win over the Hawks, Miller led the charge with an impressive 27-point performance.

Miles Bridges emerges as the Hornets' leading scorer this season, averaging 21.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Despite LaMelo Ball's higher scoring average, Bridges ranks first due to Ball's limited appearances in just 22 games this season.

Known for his explosive athleticism and three-point shooting prowess, Bridges has been a crucial asset to the team.

On the other hand, Brandon Miller is making a significant impact, averaging 17.4 points per game and is on track for a possible First Team All-Rookie selection.

In the starting lineup, Grant Williams provides reliability at the small forward position, contributing 13.9 points per game.

Tre Mann has assumed the point guard role since his arrival from the Oklahoma City Thunder, while Vaslije Micic has been a steady presence at shooting guard, averaging 11.7 points per game over the past month.

Off the bench, Aleksej Pokusevski, a 22-year-old, 7-foot center, adds versatility with his ability to shoot from the perimeter.

Nick Richards and Davis Bertans also play significant roles as major contributors from the bench.

The Hornets rank 28th in offensive efficiency and 29th in defensive efficiency, according to dunksandthrees.com. Despite their struggles, they maintain a moderate pace, ranking 21st in the NBA in pace of play.

Celtics Set for Playoffs

As the Celtics near the end of their season, the coaching staff faces the task of stoking motivation for the final two games. Securing first place in the East, they find themselves in a peculiar position, playing the second straight game after a loss to the Knicks on Thursday.

With matchups against two of the bottom teams in the Eastern Conference, the Hornets and Wizards, still on their schedule, the Celtics appear destined to advance quietly into the playoffs.

Importantly, all five regular starters saw action in Thursday's loss to the Knicks.

As of Thursday night, the extent of Boston's lineup for Friday's game remains uncertain, with Oshae Brissett being the only player listed on the injury report.

With three players averaging more than 20 points per game, the Celtics have a balanced roster where each member understands their respective roles and responsibilities.

Leading the charge is Jayson Tatum, the team's leading scorer with 27.0 points per game, and also the leader in rebounds with 8.2 rebounds per game. Tatum's long-range shooting ability extends beyond the arc, where he converts 3.1 three-pointers per game at a respectable 37.9% accuracy rate.

Alongside him, Jaylen Brown pours in points on the perimeter, contributing 23.1 points per game.

Off the bench, Payton Pritchard leads all scorers with 8.9 points per game, providing valuable support alongside Sam Hauser and Al Horford.

The Celtics boast an impressive ranking of first in offensive efficiency and second in defensive efficiency, showcasing their prowess on both ends of the court.

Despite their success, they opt for a deliberate pace, ranking 22nd in the league in pace of play.

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