Jayson Tatum will likely have teammate Jaylen Brown back in the lineup as the Celtics visit the Hornets. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)
- Boston is a big 7.5-point road favorite in Charlotte Sunday against the Hornets
- Jaylen Brown is expected to return to Celtics’ lineup
- Get the latest Celtics vs Hornets odds, betting preview and a pick below
Playing some of their best basketball of the year, the Boston Celtics have climbed into a playoff spot, sitting sixth in the East. On Sunday, they’ll be visiting the Charlotte Hornets, a team trying to find their stride and chase them down.
After a tailspin through February and March, Boston has built a 9-3 mark in April, while the Hornets have struggled to a 2-6 mark over their last eight games. That’s part of the reason the C’s are a heavy 7.5-point road favorite in this one.
Celtics vs Hornets Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Boston Celtics||-7.5 (-110)||-320||TBD|
|Charlotte Hornets||+7.5 (-110)||+260||TBD|
Odds as of April 24. Tipoff is Sunday at 1pm ET
C’s Doing it With D
Boston has found its defensive footing in April, and that’s a big reason they’ve been able to climb the standings, after going just 13-17 in their previous 30.
The Celtics own the NBA’s third-best defensive rating in April, trailing only the Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz. That 106.5 figure is a major step up from their season-long 112.2 mark, which ranks 21st in the NBA. They’re holding teams to an NBA-low 104.6 points a night, while ranking third in field-goal shooting defense (44.1%).
Celtics defense seems to be in good shape tonight pic.twitter.com/hAZj1S0Cn3
— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) April 22, 2021
They’ve also found a way to hold their own on the glass on this run, holding teams to 40.8 rebounds a night, which ranks third.
Offensively, Jayson Tatum has been doing much of the heavy lifting, leading the team in scoring eight times this month. He finished with 38 on Friday night in a loss to the Nets, a game that both Kemba Walker (rest) and Jaylen Brown (shoulder) missed. Both should be back in the lineup Sunday.
Jayson Tatum was a scoring machine yesterday 🤖
38 PTS | 10 REB | 4 AST | 51 FPTS pic.twitter.com/FKF4dKgk8s
— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) April 24, 2021
They’ll also hope for more from Evan Fournier, who had a forgettable return to the lineup against Brooklyn, after dealing with COVID issues. The Frenchman finished with just two points in 22 minutes, going 0-for-7 from the field, and missing all three of his three-point tries.
Hornets Hanging Tough
Give credit to this Hornets group, who, despite missing key cogs Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball, have been able to hang tough in the East, and hold the 8-spot at 29-30.
They got a much needed win last time out, as their 108-102 victory over Cleveland halted an ugly 1-6 stretch. The trio of Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges and PJ Washington potted 25 points apiece, and Bridges also added 10 rebounds.
Miles Bridges. Clutch ❄️ pic.twitter.com/k2xFVRm7Np
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 24, 2021
Bridges moved into the starting lineup and it looks as though the Hornets may go with this centre-less starting group (Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo both came in as reserves). While the 108 points scored is a modest figure, this was just the second time in eight games Charlotte put up more than 101 points, going sub-100 in four games.
“We need every bucket, every point, every free throw to squeeze these wins out. I’m really proud of our guys and the mentality to not give in. This was a gutty, character, resilient win.” – Head Coach James Borrego
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) April 24, 2021
They’ve put up just 100.5 points per game in their last eight, which is dead last in the NBA over that stretch, and far worse than their regular season mark of 109.6 (23rd). They’ll also be without Malik Monk Sunday, who’s out with an ankle injury.
Despite their struggles, Hayward and Ball are expected back at the start of May, and Charlotte is in prime positing to make the postseason if they can make hay with this closing schedule: nine of their final 13 games are at home.
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What’s the Best Bet?
The only thing that gives me pause taking Boston is Charlotte being a more desperate team, and boasting a 15-12 home mark, while the C’s are 13-17 away from home.
This is the second meeting of the season between these two teams, with Boston taking the first in a 116-86 drubbing on April 4. With the extra reinforcements coming in, the Celtics should be able to improve their current 6-1 ATS run in their last seven road outings.
They’re also 8-2 ATS in their last 10 against the Hornets, while winning 13 of the last 15 games outright head-to-head.
The pick: Celtics -7.5 (-110)
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Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgeable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.