Celtics

Theis (hamstring) out tonight vs. Hornets

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Theis (hamstring) out tonight vs. Hornets

BOSTON – Daniel Theis, one of the key performers in the Celtics' strong play of late, will sit out tonight’s game against the Charlotte Hornets at TD Garden due to soreness in his right hamstring.

Earlier in the day, the Celtics tweeted about how Theis was probable but acknowledged he was having the hamstring issue.

Around noon Wednesday afternoon, the team downgraded him to being out.

The 25-year-old rookie has been one of Boston’s most consistent performers this season, but has elevated his play recently.

Last week against Detroit, Aron Baynes's left elbow injury which led to more minutes for the 6-foot-9 Theis. He responded by scoring a career-high 19 points in the Celtics victory.

He would get the starting nod the following game against New York, finishing with six points and seven rebounds in the Celtics win. And in Boston’s win over Memphis on Monday, he had 12 points along with grabbing seven rebounds for the third straight game.

February was a good month for Theis who averaged 7.4 points in 19.6 minutes – his best month this season in those two categories.

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Hayward (ankle) expected to return to Celtics lineup tonight vs Bulls

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Hayward (ankle) expected to return to Celtics lineup tonight vs Bulls

Gordon Hayward will be available tonight for the Boston Celtics as they try to get back on track with a road date tonight against the Chicago Bulls. 

Hayward, whom Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said would not have any restrictions, did not play in Boston’s 98-97 loss at Milwaukee after suffering a right ankle sprain near the end of the All-Star break. 

In what has been an up-and-down season for Hayward, lately he has been riding high for Boston. 

Hayward has averaged 21.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists in his last three games while shooting 63.3 percent from the field and 69.2 percent from 3-point range. 

Here are five factors to keep an eye on heading into tonight’s game against the Chicago Bulls:

PERFECT OPPONENT TO GET BACK ON TRACK

Thursday night’s 98-97 loss at Milwaukee certainly left a bitter taste in the mouth of the Boston Celtics. 

Up next are the Chicago Bulls who look as though they are the perfect elixir to get Boston back to enjoying the sweet taste of victory. 

Although the Bulls (15-44) have won two in a row and have played better lately, they still rank among the worst teams in the NBA. 

And while on the surface being at home would appear to be a good thing for the Bulls, reality says otherwise. They come into tonight’s game with a 6-23 record at home which is the 29th-worst home mark in the NBA. 

CAN ONLY SHOOT BETTER RIGHT?

The Celtics will look to shake off a season-worst 38.2 percent shooting performance against the Bucks, in addition to finding a way to get to the free throw line more often. 

Boston went to the line six times with five makes, season lows for Boston in both categories. 

In addition, lately Boston has made the most of teams that struggle whether it be home or on the road with the Celtics coming into tonight’s game having won four of their last five road games - all of those victories coming against teams with a losing record. 

OTTO PORTER JR.

After acquiring Otto Porter Jr. on Feb. 6 from Washington, he has appeared in five games while averaging 21.4 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 57.5 percent from the field and 56.1 percent on 3’s. 

Even before the trade, Porter Jr. is a player that the Celtics are indeed concerned with based upon how he has performed against them in the past. 

Playing with the Wizards last season, Porter Jr. averaged 19.3 points and 8.3 rebounds against the Celtics while connecting on 54.2 percent of his shots from the field and 61.1 percent from 3-point range. 

PLAY BOTH ENDS OF THE FLOOR

The Celtics take pride in being a team viewed by many that can play well at both ends of the floor. This is seen in their play as well as the data which shows that they are one of the select few that plays well on offense and defense.

In fact, the Celtics are just one of three teams in the NBA which rank among the league’s top 10 in both offensive rating (10th) and defensive rating (3rd). 

PICK UP THE PACE

Most NBA teams are looking to play faster these days and the Celtics are no different. In fact, Boston’s pace has often been a good indicator of how they are going to perform. This season, Boston is 24-8 when the team’s pace is 100 or better, and just 13-14 when it’s less than 100. 

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Checking in on Celtics' projected win total (with a sobering result)

Checking in on Celtics' projected win total (with a sobering result)

The Boston Celtics still have time to meet their lofty expectations for the 2018-19 regular season.

All they need to do? Win their final 23 games.

As the Action Network's John Ewing pointed out Friday, the Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas set Boston's over/under win total for this season at 59. At 37-22 entering Saturday night's game against the Chicago Bulls, the C's are 23 wins off that pace with 23 games to go.

Hey, the longest win streak in NBA history is 33 games ... Just saying ...

It's been the perception all season that the Celtics haven't lived up to expectations, and this stat quantifies that. Projected to win the East with a 59-23 record thanks to the returns of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to a squad that reached the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals, an inconsistent Boston squad ranks fifth in the East with just a quarter of the season remaining.

Here's another sobering stat: If the C's want to match last season's win total of 55, they'll need to go 18-5 through the NBA's sixth-hardest remaining schedule that includes 13 more road games.

Of course, regular season wins aren't a precursor to playoff success. Just ask last season's Cleveland Cavaliers squad, which coasted to 50 regular season wins before LeBron James carried it to the NBA Finals.

Boston doesn't have a talent like James, but it still has time to find a winning formula for the postseason.

If you took the over on the C's this season, though, we regret to inform you it's (probably) not happening.

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