Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is expected to start Wednesday night against the Boston Celtics at Spectrum Center after missing Tuesday’s practice with an illness.
Kidd-Gilchrist, the Hornets’ top defensive player, will be matched against Celtics 6-foot-8 rookie Jayson Tatum. A former Duke star, Tatum leads the NBA in 3-point percentage at 50 percent. In this rookie class, Tatum is fifth in scoring (14 points per game), second in field-goal percentage (51.5 percent) and sixth in rebounds (5.6 per game).
While point guard Kyrie Irving (who played high school ball with Kidd-Gilchrist) is the Celtics’ biggest star, Tatum is a huge part of the 27-10 Celtics’ success. He has started all 37 games for a team in contention to make the NBA Finals.
“He didn’t have any lingering effects (from the illness), so I expect him to play and start,” Hornets acting coach Stephen Silas said of Kidd-Gilchrist following Wednesday morning shootaround.
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What makes Tatum, the third pick in June’s draft, so problematic?
“He has an NBA game right now: the isolation game, shooting the 3. I don’t think people knew he’d shoot the 3 this well,” Silas said of Tatum, who turned pro after one season at Duke. “Offense, defense, a guy who can play multiple positions and make the 3.”
A “stretch” center
The Celtics start Aron Baynes at center. But later in games, coach Brad Stevens will move 6-10 power forward Al Horford to center. Horford’s 3-point range (42 percent this season) is problematic, because it means the Hornets’ Dwight Howard has to leave the lane, where he is most impactful defensively.
“That’s something we’ve talked about, and he’s ready for, hopefully,” Silas said of Howard. “That’s kind of the way the NBA is going. It’s a little bit different” from conventional center play.
As expected, Hornets rookie Malik Monk’s stay with the G-League Greensboro Swarm was short. Monk (along with veteran guard Julyan Stone) played for the Swarm in a Tuesday afternoon game in Greensboro. (Stone is still with the Swarm).
Monk finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists in the victory over the Wisconsin Herd. He played 41 of a possible 48 minutes. Monk launched 21 3-pointers in that game, making seven.
Uniform roll out
The Hornets announced their fifth uniform option, in connection with the new affiliation with Nike’s Jordan Brand. It’s a variation on the previous black “Buzz City” uniforms. The significant difference is the “Buzz City” version previously had sleeves. This version does not.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell