BOSTON – When the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Hornets met for the preseason opener Oct. 2, both teams were mostly healthy, aside from a couple of minor illnesses on Charlotte’s side.
Things have since changed for the two squads, as they will both be dealing with injuries to major rotational players tonight when they wrap up their respective preseasons.
Celtics big man Aron Baynes hyperextended his left knee Monday night during the first half of Boston’s 113-96 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. He was quickly removed from the game and will not play tonight against Charlotte.
Baynes started two of three preseason games for the Celtics, including last Monday’s 94-82 win against Charlotte. He led all Celtics starters with 10 points in 18 minutes that night, while being tasked with guarding Dwight Howard.
Baynes’ absence could be a big blow since he is the top option the Celtics have, from both a size and physicality standpoint, to match up against Charlotte’s eight-time All-Star center.
Backup center Daniel Theis will also miss tonight’s action due to a thigh injury. The 25-year-old from Germany led the C’s in points (12) and rebounds (seven) during their last matchup with the Hornets.
While they will be missed tonight, Baynes and Theis fortunately have almost a week to recover before Boston’s season-opener Oct. 17 in Cleveland.
The Hornets, on the other hand, are facing a much more unfortunate injury situation. Nic Batum tore a ligament in his left elbow during Charlotte’s second preseason game and is expected to miss two to three months.
Losing Batum, who averaged 15.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game last season, will be a major setback for Charlotte in many areas of the game. That could especially hold true tonight, as the Hornets will miss his defense against a Celtics team that is loaded at the wing position with the likes of Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, among others.
While two of Boston’s players will be subtracted from the rotation tonight, another will be added to the mix. Coach Brad Stevens revealed this morning that veteran forward Marcus Morris will see his first preseason action tonight.
Morris joined the Celtics a week and a half late after missing training camp because of his court trial in Phoenix. He has since been working his way back into playing shape, and should see 10 to 12 minutes of action tonight.
Hayward, Al Horford and Kyrie Irving will all return to the lineup as well, after they were given Monday’s game off against Philadelphia.