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Boston Celtics go for 2nd straight win as they visit the Miami Heat

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Celtics are back on the road to take on the Miami Heat for the 2nd of 4 meetings this season.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

at
Boston Celtics (14-12) at Miami Heat (9-18)
Sunday, December 18, 2016
6:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #27, Road Game #16
TV: CSNNE, FS Sun, NBA-LP 756(DTV)/756(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 790 The Ticket
American Airlines Arena
Referees: Tony Brothers, Courtney Kirkland, CJ Washington


After one game at home, the Celtics are back on the road to visit the Miami Heat for the second of 4 meetings this season. In their first meeting, the Celtics won 112-104 in Miami. The Celtics swept the series 3-0 last season and have won 4 straight against the Heat. They will meet again on December 30 and March 26 with both games in Boston.

The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games while the Heat are 4-6 in their last 10. The Celtics are coming off a win over the Hornets while the Heat are coming off a loss to the Clippers. The Celtics are 8-7 on the road while the Heat are 4-9 at home.

Gerald Green, who played for the Heat last season, is questionable for this game with a strained hamstring. For the Heat, Chris Bosh has been ruled out for the season, in spite of his overwhelming desire to play once again. That is a messy situation where the Heat won't let him play but they won't release him either.

Dion Waiters is also out with a pectineus tear. Tyler Johnson is listed as a game time decision with an illness. Wayne Ellington left Friday's game against the Clippers with a strained hamstring and is listed as a game time decision for this game. I'm not sure who would start if Ellington is forced to miss this game.

Whenever the Celtics play the Heat, it's always fun to keep an eye on Justise Winslow. On last year's draft night, there were many rumors that Danny Ainge tried to trade the farm and as many as 5 draft picks for the Heat's draft pick in order to draft Justise Winslow. Winslow is averaging 11 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists off the bench for the Heat.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Goran Dragic

Shooting Guard

vs
Avery Bradley vs Rodney McGruder

Small Forward
vs
Jae Crowder vs Wayne Ellington

Power Forward
vs
Al Horford vs Josh McRoberts

Center
vs
Amir Johnson vs Hassan Whiteside


Reserves
Jaylen Brown
Demetrius Jackson
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
James Young
Jonas Jerebko
Tyler Zeller
Marcus Smart

Head Coach

Brad Stevens

Injuries
Gerald Green (hamstring) questionable

Reserves
Luke Babbitt
Udonis Haslem
James Johnson
Willie Reed
Josh Richardson
Derrick Williams
Justise Winslow

Injuries
Chris Bosh (blood clots) out
Wayne Ellington (hamstring) game time decision
Tyler Johnsopn (illness) game time decision
Dion Waiters (pectineus tear) out

Coach
Erik Spoelstra

Key Matchups
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Goran Dragic
Two former Suns' teammates match up against each other. Dragic is averaging 18.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 6.7 assists. They certainly know each other and their tendencies and so this should be a good matchup.

vs
Amir Johnson vs Hassan Whiteside
Whiteside has played very well since coming to the Heat, especially on defense. He is averaging 17.4 points, 14.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. The Celtics will have a tough time scoring inside and grabbing rebounds with Whiteside patrolling the paint.

Honorable Mention

Marcus Smart vs Tyler Johnson
Johnson comes off the bench but is a crucial part of Miami's rotation and often finishes the games on the floor. He is averaging 13 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 0.6 blocks per game. Like Smart, his defense is a big part of what he brings to the team. Johnson missed Miami's game Friday with an illness and is a game time decision for this one.

Keys to the Game
Defense

Defense wins games. The Heat are allowing 100.2 points per game while the Celtics are allowing 102.0 points per game. The team that is able to lock down on defense will more than likely get the win.

Rebound

The Heat are averaging 45.0 rebounds per game while the Celtics are averaging 42.2 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 for the Heat and the Celtics will need to work hard to win the rebounding battle.

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. They can't afford to slack off or to allow the Heat to play harder than them. They have to be the team that wants it more.

Play Hard for 48 Minutes
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.

X-Factors
Road Game
- The Celtics are back on the road after just one game at home and have to block out the hostile crowd and they have to focus on playing the game and not allow the distractions of playing on the road take their minds off the game.

Jet Lag - The Celtics played two road games and then had one game at home and now are on the road for another 3 games. All the travel could start to wear on the team. Hopefully they can shake that off and find a way to get past it to get the win.

Officiating - Officiating can always be an x-factor. In a lot of games the officiating isn't a factor. But there are some where the officiating completely tilts the game in one direction or the other. Which will the Celtics get in this game? It's always a possibility to have to play against a bias toward the home team when playing on the road.