Key Matchup vs. Boston Celtics: Kemba Walker vs. Kyrie Irving

The Charlotte Hornets will look to finish off their four-game road trip on a positive note on Friday night as they’ll meet a red-hot Boston Celtics squad which has won 10-straight outings.

After a rough start to the team’s away stretch, Kemba Walker bounced back with a team-high-tying 21 points and seven assists in New York on Tuesday night. The seventh-year veteran is one of just six players in the NBA right now averaging at least 21.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists per outing (Curry, Harden, James, Lillard and Wall).

Celtics newcomer Kyrie Irving continues to dazzle in his first season in Beantown, leading the team in scoring (22.0 points), assists (5.7), steals (2.1; third in NBA) and three-point field goals (2.2) per game. The four-time All-Star could be shouldered with even more offensive responsibility with Al Horford (concussion protocol) and possibly Jayson Tatum (ankle) both on the Boston sidelines.

Irving has toned down the isolation possessions this season (4.3 per game compared to 5.1 in 2016-17, which was tied for fourth in the NBA), averaging just 3.6 points in such situations (5.7 last year). Charlotte will use a handful of different defenders against him with Walker needing to be fully conscious of Irving’s substantial defensive improvements on the other end as well.

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