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Celtics host Miami Heat in a Super Bowl Sunday matinee game

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The Celtics begin a stretch of 4 games against teams under .500 as they host the Miami Heat.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports


at
Miami Heat (20-26) at Boston Celtics (16-29)
Sunday, February 1, 2015
1:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #46, Home Game #24
TV: CSNNE, SunSports, NBA-LP 751(DTV)/751/752(Xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 104.2 The Ticket
TD Garden


While most of New England will be thinking about the Patriots in the Super Bowl, the Celtics will be thinking about their own playoff hopes. They begin a stretch of 4 very winnable games against teams under .500 as they host the Miami Heat. Both teams come into this game on 2 game losing streaks. The Celtics are 9-14 at home while the Heat are 12-11 on the road.

Dwyane Wade is expected to miss this game with a strained hamstring. Wade is the Heat's leading scorer at 21.4 points per game and so they will need step up to replace his production. The Heat already struggle to score and are 28th in the league scoring only 92.7 points per game. Josh McRoberts will also be out with a torn meniscus. Luol Deng is listed as day to day with a calf injury.

This is the second of 4 games between these two teams. The Heat won the first meeting in Miami 100-84. They will meet twice more in March. The Heat are in the 7th spot in the East, just 3.5 games ahead of the Celtics, who remain 2.5 games back of the final playoff spot.


Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
vs
Evan Turner vs Shabazz Napier

Shooting Guard
vs
Avery Bradley vs Mario Chalmers

Small Forward
vs
Jae Crowder vs Danny Granger

Power Forward

vs
Brandon Bass vs Chris Bosh

Center
vs
Jared Sullinger vs Hassan Whiteside


Celtics Reserves
Phil Pressey
Tyler Zeller
Gerald Wallace
Marcus Thornton
Tayshaun Prince
Shavlik Randolph
James Young
Marcus Smart

Injuries
Kelly Olynyk (ankle) out
Evan Turner (thumb) probable
Avery Bradley (thumb) probable

D-League Assignment
Andre Dawkins
James Young

Head Coach
Brad Stevens


Heat Reserves
Norris Cole
Justin Hamilton
Udonis Haslem
James Ennis
Andre Dawkins
Chris Andersen
Shawne Williams

Injuries
Dwyane Wade (hamstring) out
Josh McRoberts (meniscus) out
Luol Deng (calf) day to day

Head Coach

Erik Spoelstra

Key Matchups
vs
Jared Sullinger vs Hassan Whiteside
This could be a tough matchup for Jared Sullinger. Whitside has been playing extremely well for the Heat recently. In January, he is averaging 13.0 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 3.36 blocks. He has had 6 double doubles and a triple double in his last 10 games. Against the Mavs he finished with 16 points and 24 rebounds, including 14 rebounds in the first quarter alone. Against the Bulls, he finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 12 blocks. He also had 23 points and 16 rebounds off the bench against the Clippers big front line. It will be important to box him out and keep him away from the basket.

vs
Brandon Bass vs Chris Bosh
Bosh is the Heat's high scorer now that Wade is out. He is averaging 21.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He is a threat from beyond the arc as well as inside and so the Celtics need to guard him closely both inside and out.

Keys to the Game

Defense
Defense wins games. The Celtics played some good defense in spurts on their road trip and they played very good defense in the second half of Friday's game against the Rockets. The Heat are allowing just 96.4 points per game (2nd best in the league) while the Celtics are allowing 103.5 points per game (6th worst). Defense will be a big key to getting a win.

Rebound

The Heat are dead last in the league in rebounding, pulling down just 20.4 rebounds per game. Crashing the boards will give the Celtics extra possessions as well as keeping the Heat from getting fast breaks and second chance points. However, Hassan Whiteside has been cleaning up on the glass in recent games and the Celtics need to work hard to win the rebounding battle. The Heat are 11-4 when out rebounding their opponents and the Celtics need to keep them off the boards if they want to win this one.

Be Aggressive
The Celtics have to be aggressive in going to the basket and not settle for jumpers, especially if the jumpers aren't falling. They have to dive for loose balls and be aggressive in crashing the boards. The starters need to come out and play aggressively from the beginning and the second unit needs to come in and pick up where they leave off. They have to attack the basket and be aggressive on defense for the whole 48 minutes. No letting up.

Run and Take it to the Hoop
The Celtics need to run on every possession. They have the legs to keep it up and not let up and to tire the Heat out. The Celtics also have to go to the basket and not settle for jumpers. Every game they have offensive droughts when their shots just won't go. When that happens, they have to go inside and not continue to hoist up jumpers. Had Sully gone inside to the hoop on some of those 3 pointers he hoisted at the end of the last game, the Celtics may have won the game.

X-Factors
Effort and Home

The Celtics are home once again and should get a boost from the home crowd. They have to put out the effort to outplay the Heat from the start and keep it up throughout. The Heat are 19-2 when leading after the 3rd quarter and so the Celtics must start strong and keep it up throughout. They can't dig a hole and expect to come back and get the win.