Boston Celtics

Jan 19, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) shoots defended by Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time in as many weeks, the Boston Celtics host the Charlotte Hornets at TD Garden on Wednesday night. Charlotte took the first meeting 111-102 behind 28 points from former Celtic Terry Rozier.

There may be 30 games left in the regular season, but for the ninth-seeded Celtics, every win matters and the Hornets are a key competitor for playoff positioning. Charlotte currently holds the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, with Boston trailing the Toronto Raptors by just a half-game for the final playoff spot.

Heading down the stretch, Boston looks to capitalize against playoff-caliber teams and climb back into the thick of the postseason race. The Hornets game comes at the right time, as Boston enters play Wednesday night as winners of four of the last five games.

Over that stretch, Jayson Tatum is averaging 33.4 points per game, including a 51-point performance against Washington. In the two of those games where Tatum scored 20 points, Jaylen Brown elevated his own play to lead the team in scoring.

Following Wednesday’s playoff-caliber matchup, Boston hits the road to battle the bottom two teams in the conference in the Atlanta Hawks and the Orlando Magic. The Celtics face another postseason contender on Tuesday in Brooklyn against a talented Nets team despite the absence of Kevin Durant due to injury. Sitting just three games behind Brooklyn, the Celtics will face another opportunity to force their way back into the playoff picture.

With the start of the play-in tournament just over two months away, Boston offers a critical stretch with legitimate playoff implications.

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