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NBA

Sunday Game Previews: Celtics, Hornets look to pick up key road wins

Sunday's matchups - Boston Celtics vs Orlando Magic & Charlotte Hornets vs Sacramento Kings
Sunday's matchups - Boston Celtics vs Orlando Magic & Charlotte Hornets vs Sacramento Kings (Getty Images)

Boston Celtics (25-16) vs Orlando Magic (17-24)

Where to Watch

Date: Sunday, Jan. 13

Time: 5:30 AM IST

TV: Sony Ten1

Location: Amway Center, Orlando, FL

Game Preview

The Celtics will look to bounce back from a upset defeat at hands of the Miami Heat on Friday, by going up against the Orlando Magic.

It was a surprise defeat for Boston, who were carrying a four-game win streak to Florida and had seemed to have found their groove ever since that reported team meeting at the end of a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. As things stand right, the Celtics have the worst record among the East's top tier teams.

While some might feel, the team has improved since that team meeting, the numbers speak otherwise. Prior to that Milwaukee loss, which was their third straight, the Celtics had the league's third-best defense (103.5) and an offense that was ranked 13th.

Since, their offensive rating has improved to 7th (114.6) but the team's defense has slipped to 11th. Through both periods, the team's net rating has been between 6-6.5.

In their second game of a three-game road trip, can the Celtics bounce back in Orlando?

Coming to the Orlando Magic, they are 1-5 since the new year (all on the road) yet they are still in Playoff contention in the East, being just a couple of games behind the eighth-seeded Charlotte Hornets.

For the Magic, it's the offense which has been an issue. For a team with a record of 17-24, they have a pretty good defense, that's ranked 13th in the league (108.4). However, their offense is ranked 23rd (105.8), largely in part to their shooting - 44.3% from the field (27th) and 35.0% from beyond the arc (17th).

Coming off a huge six-game road trip, the Magic play four of their next five games at home but three of those four are against top tier contenders - Celtics, Houston Rockets and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Game Notes

  • The Orlando Magic are 10-11 in their 21 previous home games.
  • On the other hand, the Celtics are 10-11 on the road, the worst among the Eastern Conference's top five teams.
  • The Magic is expected to miss two of their back-up centers - Mo Bamba (Foot) and Timofey Mozgov (Knee).
  • On the other hand, the Celtics are expected to miss Aron Baynes (Hand) and Jabari Bird.

Last Time They Played

Date: Oct. 23, 2018

Score: Magic 93-90 Celtics

Magic: Nikola Vucevic - 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 steals on 61.1% shooting.

Celtics: Kyrie Irving - 22 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals on 52.6% shooting


Charlotte Hornets (19-22) vs Sacramento Kings (21-21)

Where to Watch

Date: Sunday, Jan. 13

Time: 8:30 AM IST

TV: Sony Ten1

Location: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA

Game Preview

Other than a tough 6-point win in Phoenix, it's been a tough Western Conference road trip so far for the Hornets. They are 1-3 in their four games so far and are scheduled to play Sacramento (Sunday) and the San Anotnio Spurs (Tuesday) next.

And prior to starting this road trip, the Hornets lost to Dallas by 38 points.

Playing the Kings, this is a winnable game. The Hornets need to get some momentum back on their side while also starting to solidify their position in the lower half of the Eastern Conference Playoff standings.

Kemba Walker has been great so far this season and he could be an All-Star for the host city but even he has slumped badly in the last five games - 18.2 points on 34.1% shooting as compared to his season average of 24.9 points on 43.3% shooting.

On the other hand, for the Kings, a positive season has seen a recent slide as the team has lost five of their last six. Their current record (20-21) has gone below .500 for the first time this season since Nov. 30.

Despite the recent losses, there's no doubting the team's all-round improvement.

De'Aaron Fox playing like the league's best sophomore combined with the improved play of Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein has spurred the franchise along to its start in over a decade.

Going by the numbers, Sacramento is easily the most improved team this season. Just have a look:

Last season 2018-19 season
Points per game 98.8 (30th) 114.9 (5th)
Field Goal % 45.0% (22nd) 47.1% (9th)
Fast Break points 10.4 (20th) 22.6 (1st)
Points in the Paint 43.5 (22nd) 52.0 (7th)
Points off turnovers 15.2 (24th) 21.4 (1st)
Pace 95.59 (30th) 104.86 (2nd)

The numbers speak for themselves.

Game Notes

  • The Saceamento Kings are 12-10 in their previous 22 home games.
  • On the other hand, the Charlotte Hornets are 5-14 in their previous 19 road games.
  • The Hornets would be missing Cody Zeller (Hand) while their point guard Devonte Graham is expected to be a game-time decision.
  • The Sacramento Kings have reportedly no players on the injured list.

Last Time They Played

Date: Jan. 23rd, 2018

Score: Kings 107-112 Hornets

Kings: Skal Labissiere - 23 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists on 66.7% shooting.

Hornets: Kemba Walker - 26 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds.

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